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!

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