Who Done It?


I discovered these tracks along the banks of the Sandy River near Portland, Oregon, in November after a small flood.

Photo by Dennis Deck

How many animals made the tracks in this photo? What are they? [ View Answer ]


Clearly these are ungulates. Since ungulates have a diagonal stride, these three tracks must be from different animals. If you look close, it should be apparent that each track is the direct register of a hind foot over a front foot.

The overall round shape of the tracks on the left should suggest elk. The middle track has the same general shape but is a smaller animal. Thus it seems likely that we have a cow and this year's calf.

The track on the right has straighter sides and is smaller yet (though it was distorted somewhat as the animal slipped in the mud). This mule deer also walked along the bank and crossed the path of the two elk.

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