Originally posted by intrptr
reply to post by dainoyfb
Whenever we came across tracks that we were not sure about, or were even tracks of the rarer species, we photographed, measured and documented
them thoroughly. In the evening we would get together and figure out what they were.
I was wondering if you could run down the list of critter tracks you have encountered in your treks. Adding up all the variety would you say
there is a healthy population? Or scant few? Are there active packs like wolves or wolverines? How about Caribou? Bear? Do you only trek in the winter
or all year around? What kind of vegetation do any herbavor's eat? How do you track the birds, if any? Do you find kills with tracks leading away from
Sorry for all the questions, just you got my inquizattenna up.
These are the ones we came across during this winter season anyway.
Its difficult from our perspective to say if the certain numbers are healthy or not. In fact its difficult based on our surveys to tell what the
numbers are. For instance Wolf direct register. This means that the rest of the Wolves step in the tracks of the lead Wolf so exactly that it is
impossible to know how many were there. Also the snow up North is very cold and dry so it is powdery and doesn't hold the form of a print. One of the
reasons the image of the Lynx print in the OP is signifigant is that we rarely find a print that has held its form so well. We do a very specialized
form of tracking up North where instead of identifing the track by the shape of the print we go by the track pattern and the size of the print. for
instance does the animal hop two by two or walk, if it hops two by two are the prints side by side like a Squirrel or are they offset like a Weasel,
does it wander or does it go in mostly a strait line, is it heavy or light, does it direct register with it's hind feet or do the hind feet make their
own tracks, what is the length of the step and the distance between right and left steps, does the animal move slow and deliberate like a Cat or does
it move quickly, tossing snow from the foot like a
Wolf, what does it's scat look like, what habitat is it in etc?
Also I don't really know if certain animals are supposed to be in a particular area or not. For instance I can look at the areas and I get the
impresion that they are healthy, working environments. I've found no evidence that there is a shortage of Deer and Coyote in Alberta and in fact I see
them in droves while we are in town and around town from the helicopter. However you will notice that they are absent from my list even though we
documented other ungulates and Wolves on a regular basis.
Our study deals with wether or not a species exists in an area and we watch that area over many years to see what changes. So I have no way to say if
things are healthy or not. I can say that except for a disturbing number of large oil survey cutlines and some logging clear cuts in certain areas
there is little visible human disturbance.
As for Wolverine Caribou and Bear, we documented Wolverine but only a couple times. We documented Caribou in some areas and saw herds many times from
the helicopter in Wood Buffalo Park. Bear has only been documented once in the last 12 years because they are generally asleep in the winter.
Most mammal surveys are done in the winter because of how well the tracks show up in snow. Plant surveys are done in the warm seasons and bird
surveys are mostly spring to fall but more specifically when their migration brings them to a particular survey area. Birds are surveyed by catch and
release banding, audio surveys, nest counts, visual surveys and probably some other methods.
Yes, I came across many kill sites this year. One of the memorable ones was this poor Grouse that just happened to land right at a weasel hole.
Weasels, despite being barely larger than a mouse are known as vicious hunters and this one took out a grouse perhaps ten times it's size.
I'm not sure I could list here all of the herbivore winter diets but of interest Grouse apparently eat mostly Spruce needles, yuck.
4-4-2012 by dainoyfb because: Because I fixed some typos. Sorry about that.