How do we know if a bear or other animal has been nearby? Sometimes we find sign. Sometimes they leave tracks.

Sign is evidence that animals have been there. You have to look carefully, but if you are a good nature detective you might find plants or trees that have been nibbled or chewed, scratch
marks on the ground or on a tree, even bits of fur or feathers caught on branches or shed on
the ground. Another sign is scat, or animals' poop.

Tracks are often hard to find. If there is snow on the ground, you are in luck! Tracks show up well in snow. Take a sketchbook when you go out looking for tracks in the snow. Draw the
tracks and see if you can identify them later by looking in a book of tracks.

If the ground is hard and dry, you probably won't find any tracks, but if you are sure there
are animals nearby, you might try sifting flour over a patch of ground where they might cross. Leave it there overnight, and you may find some tracks! Even if the tracks are from your dog
or cat, it will be fun to see them.

Another place you can find animal tracks is in wet soil or sand, at a beach or by a lake or
stream. If you find a good, clear print, you might want to make a cast of it. Ask an adult to
help you. See directions below.


Even if you do not live where you can find tracks left by bears, you can have fun making
pretend bear tracks, using your own feet! The hind foot of a bear has a shape that is very similar to
the shape of our feet, as you can see below.

To make your "bear track" you will need to fill a pan or small tub (big enough for you to put
your foot in) with moist sand or dirt. With your bare foot, step into the sand, pressing down hard, to make a good, clear print. Using a nail, sharpened pencil, or other small, pointed stick, make "claw prints" above each of your toes.

Now follow the directions below for making a cast. When you pour the plaster into the print,
be sure to get some into the "claw prints." When your cast is hard and dry, lift it out
Brush or rinse the sand off, and you will have your own "bear track."

        You will need: Plaster of Paris and measuring cup for powder.
                      Water and measuring cup.
                      Container such as whipped topping bowl to mix in.
                      Spoon and knife (plastic is fine).

        What to do: Go to the place where you found the tracks.
                     Measure ½ cup water into the bowl.
                     Slowly add 1 cup plaster, sifting it through your fingers.
                     Stir until smooth. It should be like pancake batter.
                     Carefully pour into track, filling all of it (claw marks, too).
                     Wait until it is dry - probably 30-45 minutes.
                     When it is hard, gently cut around it and lift it out.

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