Learn to Track Wolves
Become an Expert in Tracking Wild Wolves
When you’re in wolf country, finding wolf tracks is usually not a difficult task, and if there is a little snow on the ground the job is even easier. Once you have found the tracks, following them can be either easy or difficult depending on these two factors:
1) Ease of Terrain
2) Age of the Tracks
When I’m tracking wolves in Northern Minnesota (my home state), I’m usually doing so in hopes of finding a kill site, or, if fate would smile on me, a den or rendezvous site. (Please note, my intent is only to photograph wolves from a distance.)If the tracks are too old, however, then following them is usually pointless. If they are young and fresh, it might be worth following them for as long as you are able. You never know where they might lead. Here are a few tips to help determine the age of the tracks:
- Look for wolf droppings Wolf poop (let’s call it what it is) is easy to spot because it is made up almost entirely of deer hair. If it is very fresh, it will still be steaming and moist (only once in my life have I seen signs this fresh.) As it gets older it turns from brown to white and becomes dry and dusty. The younger the droppings, the more moist it will be. If it’s not moist and squishy to the touch (use a stick!) then it is older then twelve hours and not worth following.
- How Sharp is the Imprint? If the imprint of the wolf’s paw is still sharp and clear in the ground, then it’s a good chance they are fresh. However, if the tracks are across a frozen lake, they can be deceptive! Tracks made only a few minutes ago in thick snow are quickly erased by wind. To find out how old the tracks truly are, follow them off the lake and into protective cover. You may be surprised by how recently you missed the wolf.
- Examine the Ground If the tracks you have found are in mud or moist ground, then gently prod the earth around them. If the ground has become caked hard and no longer is molded to a foot print, then the tracks are old. If the ground is moist and impressionable then the tracks could be fresh. Better yet, if the tracks are in snow, then examine the snow. How long ago did it fall? Is it old and crunchy or fresh and soft?
3) The Most Difficult Task: Distinguishing Between Wolves and Large Dogs