Who Done It?


I found these tracks going across the mud flats of Beaver Lake in Yellowstone National Park. Several others (probably a tracking class) stopped to investigate them.

Photo by Dennis Deck

What is the animal? What stride is it using? [ View Answer ]


The human footprints provide some scale. These are rather large tracks with the hind track looking somewhat like a human foot. Bear should come to mind at once. The species of bear is not obvious from the photo but these tracks were made by a grizzly.

Although bears spend most of their foraging time walking, this gait is clearly not a walk. Rather, it is a slow gallop known as a side lope. Note the front, hind, front, hind pattern. This meets James Halfpenny's criterion that a lope must have at least one hind foot behind the leading edge of the foremost front foot in a group of four prints. The bear was turned slightly to the left as it ran, resulting in a diagonal pattern.

The main highway is behind the camera. The bear was probably galloping to put distance between himself and the road.

[ View Question ] - [ Return to Menu ]