Cascadia Wildlife Blog
News from the Wolverine Tracking Project and more
We had another great tracking outing this past weekend to Clark Creek. A small amount of snow fell in the early hours of the morning, so the tracking conditions were pretty good, despite rain that was falling on and off during the day while the team was out. The animals that walked on the fresh snow left very clear tracks.
Today was a great opportunity for our group to get a good look at fresh tracks in the snow, and as with several trips lately, do some coyote trailing. They followed the Coyote trail for quite awhile, through many changes in its trail pattern. They were able to have discussion about what behaviors or motivations might have caused the animal to move in various ways they were seeing as they tracked the Coyote. Eventually, the fleet-of-foot coyote made a jump across a creek, and our wise trackers abandoned the trail rather than risk any leaps of faith weighed down with their day packs and snowshoes. They did document a few particularly good Coyote tracks, like this very clear front/rear double register -- the glove is for scale.
The team also saw snowshoe hare tracks, Douglas squirrel tracks, and mouse tracks; which are a tiny treat to find in fresh snow. Additionally, they found some great bird tracks, which they identified as most likely raven, and some very aged mystery tracks that started some fun hypothesizing.
We hope to see you all out on the mountain soon! There are only three trips left this season, and all of them have space for more trackers, so grab your chance to squeeze in one more snowy trip to the mountain this season on the sign-up page!
Hello, Wolverine Tracking Project Team!
I am excited about all of the fascinating little critters our trackers found signs of at White River this past weekend.
Our two teams that ventured to White River this weekend reported that they found small tracks and sign that we don't see very often: flying squirrel and mountain beaver. In addition, there were also weasel, hare, and Douglas squirrel track sightings for both of the groups.
How do you recognize flying squirrel tracks? It's kind of hard! Our trackers actually didn't realize what they were at the time, but took careful notes and measurements and turned to reference materials at home. Based on the track characteristics and the tell-tale sign that the front feet consistently registered ahead of the rears, they concluded it had been flying squirrel tracks. Very cool!
Our other weekend tracking team found signs of an unusual small creature, the mountain beaver. I've been lucky enough to see the signs of their burrows and twig munching only a few times in my life, and this team found a young Doug Fir sapling that was a mountain beaver buffet. How did they recognize it? The sapling caught their eye because it was missing so many branches, from ground level up to 6 feet plus. They carefully observed the cuts on the ends of the branches, noting the clean ends and that they had been cut at different times, more recently and further back. Then they ran through a series on who it could have done that, noticed that they were right next to a stream (mountain beaver habitat!) and figured it out.
Check out this picture of the chewed branches our team found:
Thank you very much to all of our exploring, teams! I hope to see you all out on the mountain soon. Let's see what other exciting finds we discover this tracking season!
P.S. Here is a little extra fun puzzle for you all. Who do you made these holes that Chris is standing next to?
Cascadia Wild trip Leaders Lela, Paul, and Chris headed up to the Cooper Spur with 29 volunteers to snowshoe and track animals in the areas for the day in partnership with BARK. BARK is a local group whose mission is "to transform Mt. Hood National Forest into a place where natural processes prevail, where wildlife thrives and where local communities have a social, cultural, and economic investment in its restoration and preservation." For more information on BARK please click on this link: http://bark-out.org/content/about-bark
What a great collaboration event and turnout! It was a very fun day of tracking and learning for all. Also, happy 157th birthday Oregon!
Stay tuned, there are many more tracking outings for this winter season coming up. See you again soon.