Tracking Quiz website

Tracking Quizzes

Quiz #39 - Question

by Brian Booth

Here’s a relatively challenging quiz involving an animal that doesn’t always leave clear footprints, and whose tracks can easily be confused with several other animals. This animal is essential in learning to become a skilled tracker. 
Photo 39A

Habitat: A grove of hemlocks and pines in mixed woodlands (coniferous and deciduous trees), on the border of eastern Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts (Photo 39A).

Time of year: December.

Photo 39B

Photo 39B shows an animal trail through some deep, fresh snow that was deposited by a classic “Nor’Easter” storm, well known to people who live in New England.

Photo 39C

Photo 39C shows a segment of the trail viewed from directly above. The stride ranged from 23 to 25 inches, and the trail width was 7 inches.

Photo 39D

Photo 39D is zoomed in on the pair of tracks seen in Photo 39A.

Photo 39E

Photo 39E is zoomed in on a second pair of representative tracks along the animal’s trail.

Photo 39F

Photos 39F / 39G are zoomed in on the individual prints in this pair.

Photo 39G
Photo 39H

Photos 39H / 39J / 39K are similarly zoomed in on a third representative pair of tracks.

The length of the tracks measured approximately from 3¼ to 3 7/8 inches, but it was difficult to put numbers on this due to the heels and legs of the animal leaving long entry trenches through the deep, soft snow. The width of the tracks could be measured more accurately, ranging from 2½ to 3 inches.

Photo 39J
Photo 39K
Photo 39L

Photo 39L shows a spot where the animal investigated a tree trunk, and marked its presence with a pungent odor. If you can’t smell it, put your nose up close to your screen. (Just kidding. Trust me – it was sharp odor.)

Photo 39M

Photo 39M is zoomed in on the most prominent track next to the tree.

  1. What animal made the tracks?
  2. Along the animal’s main trail (prior to stopping to scent-mark the tree), what type of gait was the animal using? Why was it using this gait?
  3. Along the animal’s main trail, which prints are the front feet and which are the hind feet?
  4. Was this a male or female?
  5. List two reasons why the features of the tracks are so indistinct.

Quiz #39 - Answer

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