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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian


<st Friday afternoon, the Student Naturalists led an Arboretum tour for Carleton students and the greater Northfield community. Due to the recent snowfall, the Arb had been transformed into a beautiful winter wonderland. The naturalists and participants strapped on snowshoes in order to get off trail and traverse the snowy landscape. The theme of the day was tracking, and the tour was led by resident master tracker, naturalist Cam Shorb. Cam led everyone into the floodplain of the lower Arb in order to search for signs of wildlife activity and of bigfoot, who is rumored to visit the Arb on occasion.

After finding a set of tracks in the snow, Cam asked the participants a series of questions about what they observed, in order to help them identify what animal the tracks belonged to. The students determined the direction the animal was going, the length of its stride, the size of its feet, and the pattern of the tracks, ultimately allowing them to identify the trail as that of a squirrel. (No bigfoot yet!)

The group then walked along the river, where they located several trees that had been gnawed by beaver. In one case, the naturalists determined that beaver had returned to the tree over multiple years. If you want to identify signs of beaver in the Lower Arb, look for trees near the river whose bark has been stripped away near the ground or for small trees with jagged gashes in their trunks.

After their jaunt in the floodplain, the naturalists and student participants headed back to the Arb office to warm up with hot chocolate and cookies. Although they hadn’t seen any signs of bigfoot, the students all had fun exploring the Arb in the snow and learning the basics of tracking.

The student naturalists lead guided walks for students every fall and winter, so be sure to come out and join us next year to learn more about the Arboretum and spend some quality time frolicking in the out-of-doors.

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