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Track wildlife in your back­yard

Wild - - NEWS - Il­lus­tra­tion by Ash­ley Bar­ron

So many an­i­mals stay ac­tive in the win­ter. No mat­ter how cold it gets, you can find them in your back­yard look­ing for a bite to eat or scur­ry­ing for shel­ter. Let’s take a look at some of the most pop­u­lar crit­ters you might find when you step out­side your door and how to track them. Deer

Deer don’t move around a lot dur­ing the win­ter. They spend most of their time warm and cozy, tak­ing shel­ter by conif­er­ous trees like fir, pine and spruces which block the wind and keep them hid­den away from preda­tors. When they’re hun­gry, they’ll walk short dis­tances to find food. They don’t need to go all that far when they eat things like twigs, grass, and nuts. Their tracks are easy to spot. They kinda look like up­side down heart shapes!

Squir­rels

We’d be sur­prised if you’d find squir­rel tracks on su­per cold win­ter days. They usu­ally hun­ker down in their nests un­til the weather warms up. On warmer win­ter days, they like to head out and find the nuts they buried dur­ing fall. Even if there’s been a big snow fall, they can sniff out the nuts they buried — even un­der 30 cen­time­tres of snow! Look for large tracks, spread out — you can see that they’ve been jump­ing here and there. The tracks will prob­a­bly lead to a tree at some point so keep an eye for squir­rel tracks around trees!

Red Fox

Do you have Red Foxes where you live? They might not be as com­mon as rac­coons and squir­rels, but if you’re lucky enough to share a habi­tat with these beau­ti­ful crea­tures, you might find signs of them in the snow this win­ter. Red Foxes leave round tracks in what we’d call sin­gle file — one paw in front of an­other. It doesn’t look like they roam around too much — they know ex­actly where they’re headed.

Voles and Mice

You’ll need to look re­ally closely if you want to find tracks from small mam­mals like mice and voles. These tiny crea­tures have tiny paws too and the tracks they leave be­hind can be hard to see. They are very faint on the snow, show­ing their paws and some­times the trail their tails will leave be­hind. But voles are rarely out and about on sunny win­ter days — far too risky as these dark coloured mam­mals will stand out on the white snow. They pre­fer to hang out just be­low the snow where they can cre­ate tun­nels to get around.

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