One fun winter activity at Devil’s Lake State Park is discovering and identifying animal tracks. Finding tracks is usually much easier than identifying them. Sometimes you have to make your best guess.
We came across these tracks deep in the woods while checking our critter cams out in the wilds of the park this week. At first glance, we guessed it was a raccoon. They’re the most common midsized wildlife tracks you would find around the area. (Mouse and squirrel are common small tracks and coyote & deer are the common larger tracks.) In that “midsized” group we’re generally looking at raccoons, opossums, skunks, etc.
As we looked at more tracks from this critter, they started to look “wrong” for raccoon. They seemed too big and the more defined tracks had clear claw marks. You can also make out the footpads in many of the tracks. In addition, there was also an obvious drag on the center back toe which is sometimes showing in fisher track illustrations. Another difference we saw was the length of the stride and placement of the feet. Look at this shot below…
On this log you can see 2 sets of tracks, the one we think is a fisher are the much heavier, deeper tracks. You can also see the clear claws on the back foot and the wider spread of the front foot. Martin? It’s certainly not an opossum or skunk! Whoever this was it was a pretty substantial critter.
Are these tracks from a fisher? Well, they are not particularly common in our part of the state. On the other hand, we have already captured a fisher on one of our trap cameras located not far from this spot.
What’s your guess? Be sure to comment below!