Tracks Left in the Night

Diagram showing what raccoon tracks look like

What creatures live in our county parks?

During an afternoon, you will notice only a small fraction of the parks' inhabitants. A Steller's jay might scold you from the limb of a pine tree. While hiking on a lakeside trail, you might spot a black-tailed deer drinking at the shore.

Even if you camp for a couple of days in a county park, you will see but a few more furry or feathered critters. Yet at night, tucked safely inside your tent, you hear many wild and strange noises outside. Hisses and grunts. A whoot from a grove of oaks. The sounds of various paws moving through the leaf litter.

Come morning, there are tracks in the dirt, mud or sand. If you forgot your half-eaten sandwich on top of your picnic table, it's gone! The thief has left a clue: a path of sticky paw prints starting from the soda can it overturned.

196567deer_tracks

Numerous animals in our county parks sleep during the day. They primarily hunt and feed at night, often near water. At sunrise, they hide from prying eyes in hollow logs, caves and ground burrows. Still other night-time -- nocturnal -- animals rest in dense brush and in the leafy canopies of tall trees.

You probably won't catch a glimpse of these many creatures in the daylight. They do, however, leave signs of where they've walked and stalked at the night. You only need to look to the ground for their tracks. 

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