Explorer Observation Toolkit - 1

Tracking Observational Techniques 1
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RJ Cody Markelz


July 14, 2023

tracks with human hand for scale

When I am out training by hiking or trail running I often come across animal prints on the trail. Unsurprisingly, there is an entire discipline of field biology that quantifies animal sign (prints, scat, paths, runs, broken twigs). These animal indicators are collectively called spoor. The trails and fire roads that I do a lot of exploring on are also highways for other animals because they are already clear. In the winter there are prints left in the snow. In the spring there are puddles that pick up prints. In the dry summers and fall, the dustier parts of the trail act as good substrates for picking up prints. Tracking is an all season activity!

There are a number of resources on ground level tracking of animals I have read through over the years. This is the first a series of short posts on the topic.

I have the goal of finding spoor for all of the large carnivores in the area:

I would like to expand this list to all of the major mammals in the area outlined in “A Field Guide to Animal Tracks and Scat of California” (2012) by Elbroch, Kresky, Evans.