Jed Jordan, Originally published January 12, 2016

Last Saturday, eleven trackers followed the creek along a 1-mile stretch of train tracks for the first outing of the Primitive Pursuits Winter Tracking Series.

Of particular interest were the large carnivores of the area that the group had studied up on the night before – coyotes, foxes, bobcats, fisher and river otter. The goal was to develop a keen understanding of how to differentiate some of the more common species like red fox and domestic pets from the more ecologically significant predators that have only recently returned to our area.

Despite a last-minute change in plans due to the disappearance of snow cover, the earth provided for us a most spectacular array of wildlife species records, imprinted in the muds and sands of the watercourse.

Here’s what we confirmed with detailed track analysis:

  • grey squirrel
  • red fox
  • raccoon
  • whitetail deer
  • pigeon
  • coyote
  • crow
  • a large domestic dog
  • beaver
  • bobcat
  • grey fox
  • river otter
  • mink (scat only)
  • red squirrel
  • raccoon (juvenile)
  • mouse
  • muskrat
  • a medium domestic dog
  • Canada goose

…that’s 17 species!

A few other unconfirmed candidates also sparked some discussion, such as a house cat, a blue heron, some small birds and a can of mountain dew. But the real treats of the day for me were an unbroken chain of clear grey fox prints that continued for 60 yards, and an expansive record of coyotes doing all manner of partying in a drained beaver swamp.

If any of this sounds like fun, please do consider joining us on our next tracking workshop adventure!…

Can you see those otter tracks!