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"What’s a fun family activity to do outdoors after it snows?"

Winter is a great time to go outside to see and learn about wildlife with your family. Many animals stay active during the winter time and travel through snow in order to find food and shelter. If you can find some tracks and look at them closely you can learn a lot about what the animals did and where they went. Here’s how to find tracks:

Where to go: Just after a fresh snow, head out to a nearby stream, field, or forest, and be on the lookout for tracks and signs that wildlife have been there. The best snow depth to read animal tracks is about 1-4 inches. When there is more snow, it can be difficult to see the patterns that each animal leaves.

What to wear: Be sure that you bundle up if the weather is cold. Wildlife have lots of fur to keep them warm, but we do not.

What to bring: A camera to take a picture of tracks or wildlife.

Questions for your family to talk about:

  • How big are the tracks? What is the shape of the tracks?
  • How quickly do you think the animal was moving?
  • Why do you think the animal was here?
  • What other signs of wildlife do you see? Sometimes wildlife leave behind bits of fur, scratches, rubs, or chew marks on plants and trees, and scat.

With some practice and a wildlife tracking field guide (available at many local libraries), you can identify the kind of animal that left the tracks or sign and what the animal was doing. Don’t forget--if you see wildlife, give them space. You may be able to watch them for a longer time if you stay quiet and a safe distance away from the animals. That way the wildlife shouldn’t feel scared and you can stay safe.

 

Ashley Andersen Leonard
Statewide Conservation Education Coordinator

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