Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tracking exercise

These are all poor tracks, but based on what you see, what animals do
you think could have made them, and why? What would you look for to
help you make an exact determination?


  1. I would look at length and width of the track, overall shape, presence/absence of claw marks, note any special attributes that might be associated with a particular species and factor in the substrate where the track was found.

    Based on shape and size, I am going to guess gray fox for the bottom pic; red fox for the middle pic; and gray fox for the top one

  2. Donna,

    I should have indicated that the tracks all came from the same trail.

    This was in a wetland at Mt. Pisgah yesterday. The tracks pictured were among the first we saw, with a prominent X in some of them, leading us to think gray fox, exactly as you said. However, we thought the step length appeared a bit long, and were impressed by the roundness of most of the tracks, so we began to suspect feline.

    We followed the trail into the woods where snow conditions were slightly different, and the tracks clearer. They were feline. The track and the trail measurements and the animal's behavior, were all consistent with bobcat. I will post them later.

    Once we find nice clear tracks, we tend to photograph those and forget about the "bad" ones. So this time I though't I'd study and photograph lots of them, good ones and bad ones, to emphasize how easy it is to be fooled by following simple rules of thumb (such as X means canine), the importance of noting trail measurements, and of "follwing it out", until you're really sure.