Tracking Tips: Curious Sign

Photos by Susan C. Morse

It’s spring, and the snowpack is retreating. But it’s not just coltsfoot and trout lily that are emerging from beneath the melting snow. Over the years I’ve found plastic oil jugs, PVC pipeline sections, a 2-gallon bucket, an old hubcap, a Nerf football, a broken canoe paddle, numerous plastic soda bottles and beer cans, one rubber boat bumper, several plastic flower pots, a hunter’s tree stand cushion (and accompanying “pee bottle”), not to mention “No Trespassing” signs, trail marker signs, and any number of bird feeders and small garbage containers that have somehow made their way into the woods.

All of these findings have one thing in common: they have been bitten by a wild animal. Enjoy the following photos; this is a learning opportunity you can really sink your teeth into!


Tracking Tips: Curious Sign Image

The action of a ‘bite’ is achieved by forceful upward movement of the lower jaw.

Tracking Tips: Curious Sign Image

This float from an Alaskan Inupiat fishing net was quite the toy for a polar bear cub. Two separate bites left arcs of incisor impressions on the top of the float and numerous canine holes can be seen below.

Tracking Tips: Curious Sign Image

Close inspection of this sign reveals bear hair in addition to teeth and claw marks.

Tracking Tips: Curious Sign Image

A wider view of the damage done.

Tracking Tips: Curious Sign Image

Gloved fingers on lower right point to where this U.S./Canadian boundary sign was marked by a black bear.

Susan C. Morse is founder and program director of Keeping Track in Huntington, Vermont.


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