|Skunk tracks in tuff? Badlands National Park|
What struck me most was the diversity of wildlife you share a space with but never see. Many creatures are either active at night or are crepuscular, so you are unlikely to stumble upon them on your hike or jog. In the semi-rural piedmont of North Carolina where I took my class, we saw sign of river otters, mink, beavers, foxes, mice, rabbits, house cats, and coyotes. You can get a feel for the lushness of North Carolina's forests from that list.
Shortly afterwards I moved to Nebraska. My regular jogging route was up and down gravel roads. I'd pat the nose of the neighbor horse, and I flushed deer and turkey most mornings. I saw plenty of their tracks, but I also saw coyote, badger, skunk, and, in the western part of the state, antelope. My impression of Nebraska was that it was a sportsman's paradise. They are drowning in game. Between the resident turkey flock (one technical term is 'rafter'; as in 'a rafter of turkeys') and the jumping deer, Nebraska seemed veritably made of meat.
|What happened here? Near Paria canyon, UT|
|Something long dead|
(fossil dino tracks)
I was shocked that these fossils didn't have so much as a fence around them. You could walk right up and touch them, or put your feet in the tracks and mimic the dinosaur's gait if so inclined. The location was self-guided, so there wasn't even anyone to stop you from taking a pickaxe to the rock and hauling away a chunk of dino-print. It seems that the people who have trekked out so far have managed to restrain themselves. Let's hope that continues to be the case.
|People! Chipped toeholds near Paria Canyon, Utah|
|Raccoon tracks look like children's hand prints (Old Alton Bridge)|
I hope to tour a little of the western part of the state over the holidays. I'll certainly takes pictures to document any interesting traces of the resident wildlife that I should come across!
|Canid, probably red fox (Old Alton Bridge)|