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Reader recommends some back tracking

Letter to the Editor

Posted: Friday, September 14, 2007

I read with interest Joseph Robertia's interview with wildlife tracking expert Michelle Ostrowski, "Decoding tracks takes the skill of a sleuth" (Clarion, Aug. 17).

Having done a lot of tracking myself as a way to piece together how some wild animals utilize their environment, I can vouch for its value as a technique. For highly secretive often nocturnal carnivores it is especially useful.

One important point left out in the article is to follow the tracks backward. This ensures that the investigator is observing how the animal was using its environment before the arrival of the investigator.

Going in the direction the animal is moving, one never knows if he or she is inadvertently causing the animal to move or otherwise exhibit avoidance behavior.

Ostrowski suggests when following bear tracks to be especially cautious as the tracks may not be as old as one might think. Unless the object is to find the bear, this is especially the occasion to be following the tracks back in time rather than forward.

Dr. Paul Joslin

Wildlife biologist

Anchorage



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