Cascadia Wildlife Blog
News from the Wolverine Tracking Project and more
Hello all, today was the last tracking trip of this winter season and our trackers this weekend head up to the Clark Creek area. They had originally intended to head for Elk River Meadows to find good snow for tracking, but they quickly discovered that they didn't need to go that far at all to find some great tracks in the snow. Shortly after the group crossed Clark Creek, they came upon a clear fresh trail of a diagonal walker. They of course decided to follow the tracks and figure out what animal left these tracks behind.
While following the trail the animal left behind and investigating the shape and look of the tracks, our perceptive trackers noticed that the tracks at the beginning of the trail had both canine and feline characteristics. The tracks were more oval than round, many had a fairly triangular rear pad, and some had a clear X visible between the pad and toes; all classic canine track characteristics. However, they also saw there were no claws marks present in any of the prints; which are generally indicative of feline tracks. Additionally, the ratio between heel size to toe size appeared to resemble that of a feline; all four toes would fit in the area of the heel.
Find this trail of tracks really peaked the interest of the team so they spent the rest of the day trailing this animal and looking for more clues. They followed the trail for quite a ways as it curved in between trees and traversed logs. In addition to track in the snow the trackers spotted some other signs that were left behind by the animal the were following. Urine was found as well as a spot where the animal stopped to scratch a tree, with clear tracks all along the way. An image of the scratched tree with tracks by it can be seen below:
After looking at hundreds of tracks and all the behavior along the trail, the team felt confident in their decision to identify the trail as that of a bobcat. They also concluded that the animal was likely on the hunt because they spied many squirrel and grey jay trails close by to the bobcat trail. At one point while following the bobcat trail our trackers saw a disturbance in the snow that was the result of the bobcat pouncing. However, it appears that the prey must have escaped, as there was no evidence of a successful kill.
The determined team did a great following several types of animal sign, implementing their tracking knowledge to determine what animal they were following, and had outstanding perception during their hike. Fantastic documentation and drawings, Damon! These great drawings and observations, seen on the data sheet below, supported the group's conclusion of identifying the animal tracks as bobcat.
Thank you to everyone who joined us on the mountain for this year's tracking season. We had a wonderful time with all of you wonderful folks. We are definitely looking forward to our next season of tracking and can't wait for you to join us again.