Friday, February 17, 2012

Follow that Footprint

Identifying animal tracks in the snow can be pretty tough. Trackers observe the number of toes and claw marks to determine whose track they’re looking at. But tracks in soft or deep snow may not show any details… and tracks in melting snow can be twice their normal size.

coyote tracks in deep snow; by Linda Spielman
In the winter you might just find deep holes in the ground and drag marks where an animal brushed the snow with its belly or dragged its feet. Or you might find wing-marks where a bird took flight.

What’s a tracker to do? Look at the patterns that tracks leave:
  • are there alternating prints?
  • are there sets of two prints?
  • are there sets of four prints?
Where did this animal go? Try following the tracks.

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