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Tracking Animals -- update

As part of my research for the tracking post, I spoke with Del Morris from the International Society of Professional Trackers. He was extremely helpful, getting the word out to ISPT members that Captivate was looking for city-specific tracking tidbits. I’ll post the information in this space as it comes in.

Jan. 27: Adam Fox, an ISPT member from outside Portland, Ore., recommends Kim Cabrera’s CD-ROM as a fun, easy-to-follow way to quickly learn animal-track basics. Cabrera’s site has enough handy info to fill a bear’s den, plus links to other great resources.

Jan. 28: ISPT member and Girl Scout nature specialist Tina Smith checks in from outside Philadelphia, where she says, “I dig tracking in the city because you get fleeting glimpses of nature holding fast in the concrete ‘jungle.’ Besides the pigeons flying about or pecking around the ground, you can see their pudgy little prints in the dust and silt around the landscaped trees along the curb or even in the silt in the gutters. There are also other birds that hang in the city: sparrows, finches, starlings, etc. Those dirt areas are ‘track traps’ for squirrels as well. Along alleyways and park sides, or even along the edges of sidewalks, you can spot rat tracks, squirrels, opossum and raccoon. Depending on your area, you may have a large population of skunks, and there are always the feral cats. … In Philly's Fairmount Park there are also coyotes and foxes, rabbits and various reptiles and amphibians.”

Tina emphasizes that, while there is much to be learned while tracking, the main point is to have fun. She says you can use tracking as an excuse during the workday to get outside and play: “The cool part during the day is that if you are taking a lunch or break, it is recess ... go play!!! Have some fun! Tracking is fun; it slows you down and you can take it really far into the details of each track you find. Connect it to the gaits and the big story – what has happened before you got here? [Maybe make it] a little treasure hunt? A little ‘CSI’? Find a motive if you have to, but play!”

Jan. 29: And Ms. Cabrera herself checks in now, with a description of the tracking potential of downtown L.A., where she used to work. She says you can find tracks of raccoons very often in the bed of the L.A. River, and “there is also quite a good population of urban coyotes living in L.A. Residents can see them at night, and even find their tracks. Places that are good for tracking near L.A. include Griffith Park. Also the Whittier Narrows Dam area was excellent for tracking. And, my favorite place was Turnbull Canyon. This is a huge open area that backs up to the Rose Hills Cemetery. There is a dirt road and I saw coyotes and tarantulas there. Tracks of raccoons, foxes, skunks, coyotes, and more are common in that canyon. It's a beautiful place. I found many species that visited my backyard while I lived in the suburbs of Whittier. These included raccoons, opossums, mice, coyotes, Pacific treefrogs, and a California kingsnake.”

Feb. 4: “Although a relatively recent phenomenon, coyotes have become the top carnivore in an increasing number of metropolitan areas across North America. This includes one of the largest urban centers in the Midwest — the Chicago metropolitan region.”

So says the Cook County Coyote Project, a collaboration of The Ohio State University and several agencies that seeks insight into these beautiful animals and how they intermingle with humans. This site is a perfect place to see hard data on how even the wildest of animals can be found in city propers. Thanks to Kim Cabrera, who brought this site to Green Among Gray’s attention, noting, “Coyotes live in many urban areas, including Los Angeles.”

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“Tracking Animals -- update”