July 25, 2008

July Wildlife Tracking Apprenticeship day

Posted by Jason K.

We had quite the adventure during the July meeting of the Wildlife Tracking Apprenticeship. I took the crew out from the Alderleaf property to study carnivore sign while exploring new territory.

We started out the day looking at some bobcat sign on the Alderleaf property. It wasn't too much later that we came across this:

A tree that a black bear had tore apart to feed on the inner bark (cambium). We counted at least 20 trees like this in the area. Cambium is actually a popular springtime food for bears.

Further down the trail, near a small unnamed wetland, we found an area where at least one bobcat had been marking extensively with scrapes and scat:

Mossy areas seemed to be preferred (probably because the moss holds scents longer than other substrates in the area). We eventually made it out to a large beautiful nearby lake:

and learned that it's inhabited by a healthy river otter population, as we found numerous otter scats. This one contains crayfish remains:

The best unexpected discovery of the day was these:

Aplodontia (mountain beaver) tracks. The top track is a front foot, the bottom track is a hind foot.

These shy nocturnal animals, native only to the northwest, spend most of their time underground, and come out to feed on shrubs. They live in the forest and rarely venture far from their tunnel entrances. Finding their tracks is uncommon. We were lucky that this one happened to walk through a dried up mud puddle.

They have very unique tracks. Since they are prolific diggers, the front foot has large claws and is curved inward. The hind looks similar to a squirrel's hind track, as both species are in the rodent order.

Looking forward to next month, as we will be focusing on trailing skills.


You can find out more about the Wildlife Tracking Apprenticeship at: http://www.wildernesscollege.com/wildlife-tracking-apprenticeship.html

No comments: