Tracking Quiz website

Tracking Quizzes

Quiz #36 - Answer

1. The mystery animal is ELK
2. The elk that made the tracks was relatively small. The track measurements are smaller than listings in any of my field guides. It may have been a juvenile. (Note: The big elk in Photo 36H was not the elk that made the tracks.)

3. The tips of the toes are more blunt than deer or antelope, but sharper than bison or cattle. The overall shape of the track is more round than deer, antelope, mountain goat or bighorn sheep. The floor of the track has a domed appearance – if you didn’t notice this, go back and take another look at Photo 36G taken from the side angle. Elk are unique in that the front ¾ or so of the foot is concave, soft “subunguis” material, which produces the dome. The rear ¼ of the track is the toe pad, which is flat, hard material. A deer for example has a larger pad and smaller subunguis, producing a track with a flatter floor.

4. These tracks were fresh – probably less than 6 hours old. Tracks in dusty substrate deteriorate quickly, and these tracks still had crisp definition. We first found the tracks at about 10am, then saw them again at 4pm on the return trip - the tracks had noticeably deteriorated by then.

Special thanks to Dave Moskowitz of Wilderness Awareness School for teaching me about the morphology of the elk foot that helped to identify these tracks. Always good things to learn from nature.



Quiz #36 - Question      ...on to Quiz #37

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