Pueblo Mountain Park...upine?

Saturdays outing with the Pueblo Youth Naturally group was a lot of fun! Rangers Sandy and Pine joined these kids after they had been sledding and exploring for the morning and went over some basics of animal sign tracking. Some of the kids had been students in Earth Studies and remembered some of the material from their lessons in prior years.

An amazing experience occurred when tracking along South Creek near the southern boundary of the park. A gnarly windfall in some deep snow forced us to ascend the creek bank and into a fairly open stretch of ponderosa pine ecosystem. Suddenly we came upon an uncommon phenomenon, a White Fir with the bark stripped from nearly every limb.

The bark stripped from the branches lay in a very noticeable layer of small (3” x ¾”) strips around the base of the tree from trunk to drip-line.

I wasn’t sure what animal had done this damage to the tree, but I assumed it was stripping the outer bark to get to the sugary carbohydrate-rich inner bark. When I consulted Ranger sandy Christensen about this animal sign she felt that it was a sign of porcupine, an animal we often do not think of as inhabiting the Mountain Park. A bit of research confirmed Ranger Sandy’s suspicion and closer examination of the bark-strip laden area beneath the tree turned up some unmistakable porcupine scat and quills!


Earth Studies Session 4: Mammals & Tracking Comes to an end.

The Earth Studies session on Mammals & Tracking has just come to an end. We had many great days of tracking with all the fresh snow. A few warm afternoons allowed some muddy conditions for wildlife to impress their prints into which we often found frozen the next day . . . perfect for showing the details of wildlife identification through the use of track analysis!

Several areas where the snow we had about a month ago melted down kids were able to identify areas where deer had bedded down. When we examined these closely we even found some deer hair to identify and match up with the hides we have as teaching tools in the classroom. We also ran across a very interesting site where something had been killed and eaten. Although there were no bones or flesh left behind, we did find frozen blood, entrails and a lot of hair. From the hair and remains we think it may have been a raccoon, perhaps eaten by a bobcat or other predator. There were many days when these kids exclaimed that it had been the best time out to the park yet!