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Tracking Quizzes

Quiz #20 - Answer


There are actually at least six animals leaving tracks in the photo.

The six animals are as follows:

BLACK BEAR, RIGHT FRONT FOOT, outlined in yellow (see Photos below). Although the Bob Marshall Wilderness (a.k.a. "The Bob") is famous for its grizzly bears, black bears live there too. The curvature of the arrangement of the toes in the track, and the wide spacing between the toes, indicates black bear; grizzly bear toes are closer to being in a horizontal line and are scrunched closer together. The claw marks, which are almost impossible to see on the photo but were pretty clear by eye, are outlined in yellow as well (this is another example of a quiz that is more difficult than real tracking). Anyway, the short length of the claw marks strongly suggests black bear rather than grizzly bear which has much longer claws. If the claws stick out way in front of the toes, it’s grizzly; if the claws look short, it’s probably black bear but can be either. The track is a front foot – a bear’s hind foot has a long heel that looks very much like a human barefoot track. Lastly, it may come as a surprise that this is a right track; not a left. Note that the big toe is on the right side, and the plantar pad is thicker on the right side. Bears are unique animals in that their big toe (and bulk of their plantar pad) is on the outside of the foot, which helps them in climbing trees.

LEAST CHIPMUNK, RIGHT & LEFT FRONT FEET, outlined in pink. This was amazing to see, chipmunk tracks inside a bear track! There are 4 toes on the foot, indicating rodent front foot. The size of the prints (" long by " wide) is on the order of Chipmunk, Red Squirrel, or Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel, which all live in this habitat. Field guides indicate the size of the prints is right on for Chipmunk and a little too small for Red Squirrel or Ground Squirrel, and the upside-down "U" shape to the plantar pad is also more suggestive of Chipmunk than the other rodents.

HUMAN, LEFT BOOT print, partially obscured by the bear print, outlined in blue. The outlines show traces of left boot prints from at least three people in the picture.

HORSE, LEFT HORSESHOE print, outlined in orange. This was (perhaps) the hardest of them all, because it was so much obscured by the human boot print, hence it was highlighted in the clues that this is a popular equestrian area. I say it’s a left foot only because it’s on the left side of the trail, and there was no obstacle up ahead that would have obviously made the horse step off the trail, but I suppose it’s fully possible that it’s a right foot.

DEER, two faint tracks, outlined in aqua. They are probably Mule Deer, going by the track size & habitat, although they could be a white-tailed fawn as well.

COYOTE pup, very faint track outlined in green. The 4-toe arrangement with prominent toenails indicates dog family. The robust nail marks are more suggestive of coyote than red fox, and the tight toe arrangement with two distinctly centred toenails are more suggestive of coyote than domestic dog. The track is too small to be an adult coyote, so it could be any of the three.




Hope you enjoyed this double bonus quiz, and enjoy the holiday season.

Peace & joy,



Quiz #20 - Question      ...on to Quiz #21

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