Conservation Minnesota

Tracking through the Snow

Ready for it or not, winter will soon be upon us, although with the freezing temperatures outside the past few weeks, I would say that it has made an early entrance. With winter, of course, comes snow. While spring will always be my favorite season, there is something so fresh and inviting about a brand new snow fall. It brings me back to my childhood growing up in the country, running around the woods, going sledding in our backyard, and just enjoying the beauty of the season.

My husband, who grew up a city boy and will remain one his entire life, does not see the wonder in the season. He sees it as a cold, gray time of year. But, every once in a while, he will humor me and join in on a winter hike. Our favorite thing to do on those hikes is to try and identify the tracks in the snow. Many creatures hibernate in the winter, such as bears, skunks, groundhogs, chipmunks, and bats, but others stay active and need to forage for food in the snow.  These are the tracks you are likely to see (although striped skunks and black bears are light hibernators and will come out to get food as it is needed).

Here is a quick guide to the tracks you might see this winter. There are many more tracks that you may run across in your winter activities. Are there any tracks you typically see but aren’t listed? Let us know in the comments. Happy Tracking!

Deer Tracks:

Deer Tracks

Raccoon Tracks:

Raccoon Tracks

Comparison of Coyote, Dog, Fox, and Cat Tracks:

Comparison Tracks

Turkey Tracks:

Trukey Tracks 

Pheasant Tracks:

Pheasant Tracks

About Whitney Thesing

Whitney Thesing
Whitney Thesing graduated in 2009 from the University of Minnesota - Morris with degrees in Economics and Environmental Studies.  After graduating, she has worked in many areas of natural resources including water quality, invasive species management, ecological experiments, phenology, and native ecosystem restoration. She volunteers her time as a member of St. Louis Park's Environment and Sustainability Commission, focusing on education and behavior change, and water resources, two causes near to her heart.
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