I get to work teaching canoeing. One of the small wonders of this job is spending time connecting with the animals that have left a shadow of their souls in the footprints they leave on the beach.
Two of my favourites: the elusive mustelid, the mink, whose slinky body and webbed feet adorn sand as it goes foraging for fish and small rodents. second, the muskrats, whose tracks remained a mystery to me for years, with their special halo of hair on their bare feet to help with swimming. These two share in a predator/prey relationship, both have beautiful pelts, and both leave me excited when I leave my tracks alongside theirs.
Posted in crafts and skills, Nature
Tagged Animal tracks, beach, canoe, canoeing, lake, mammals, river, tracking, wildlife, wildlife tracking
Great song about man tracking, introduced to me by my friend Sam.
For the past two years, I’ve spent a few weeks of my summer tracking wolves in Idaho. The wolves were reintroduced in the mid-1990’s, and have since been a hot issue for locals. Environmentalists, such as the defenders of wildlife, all agree that the reintroduction of this keystone species is crucial to ecosystem survival. Ranchers, on the other hand, believe otherwise. They claim that wolves are dangerous creatures that affect their livelihoods, and were eradicated for a reason. Last summer, the wolf population was sufficiently established for the hunt on wolves to be reopened. Some bumper stickers I noticed on the trip included “Wolves: Smoke a pack a day”. It’s clear at this point that this issue is incredibly emotional, and both sides need to explore the others points.
When it comes to the ecosystem, it is clear that wolf reintroduction has aided streams and rivers that were previously destroyed and trampled by herd animals such as elk. The wilderness of Idaho is one of the vastest in the lower 48, making reintroduction, in my opinion, important for the maintenance of this habitat that houses, among other creatures, deer, elk, cougar, bear, and some of the last pacific salmon habitat. For more information on this issue, check out this link.
Personally, wolf tracking has been an incredibly transformative experience, allowing me to deepen my personal knowledge of this apex predator. That being said, with their jaw snapping power of 2000 pounds per cubic inch, they’re not a creature I would like to come face to face with. Let’s remember that wolves are an animal to be respected, and admired at a distance.
(Photos by Eric Himelfarb)
I’ve just returned from one of the wildest places in North America, the lodgepole pine forest of Central Idaho. There, we tracked wolves, played in cold mountain streams, had snow fights during warm sunny days at high elevations, saw bear poop, wolf tracks, a badger, porcupines, jumping mice, american martens, and many other wild creatures.
But what really makes an epic journey is not the journey itself, but the ability to tell one’s story around a fire at the end of the day. I’m thankful for the people here I consider family, who are willing to break open poop to figure out what the wolves are eating, stick their ear to the ground to hear a badger dig, and flash a little jumping mouse who was winking at us.
and most of all, I’m thankful for magical places.
(pictures to come)
for more information, check out Wilderness Awareness School’s wolf tracking expeditions, for teens and adults.
Song by a rad band called Mountain Man, introduced to me by Michelle. Great for lulls during tracking sessions, as well as to get kids jazzed up on singing. I sang this for a whole afternoon with my little buddy Jasper, and then we sang it for his mum and brother, who seemed to love it too. During a CyberTracker evaluation I participated in, half the group broke out into this song after a day identifying elk, beaver, and mole tracks. Sent shivers down my spine! Enjoy!
Click here for Animal Tracks by Mountain Man