Delta Sense of Place explores winter tracking

ESCANABA — Delta Sense of Place participants recently explored the art and science of animal tracking via snowshoes at the Days River DNR Trail. The program was the first in a year long series of outings to enhance understanding and appreciation of the natural and human history of the region.

The series is facilitated by Clear Lake Education Center and Escanaba’s Canterbury Book Store.

It features a monthly one-hour enrichment session at the bookstore with subject materials provided that prepares participants for the following Saturday field trip to sites around the county.

Clear Lake instructor Rachel Faccio led a group of eight snowshoers along the two-mile trail, including a side trip to a tributary of the Days River. The group discovered snowshoe hare, red squirrel, deer, and other tracks, along with learning about how various animals adapt to a move about in winter. As they trekked, the snowshoers were mindful of the ski tracks and avoided them — staying carefully to the side or going off-trail, as needed.

“The temperature was low; our enthusiasm was high, and the camp fire and hot chocolate topped it all,” said Gayle Bradley of Escanaba. She also reflected “While snowshoeing along the river following deer tracks, Rachel pointed out the cedar trees, drawing our attention to all the bark and branches striped up about 5 feet. She explained how microorganisms in the deer’s stomach change in winter to pull nutrients from such foods. Therefore, when people supplement feed the deer, it can actually contribute to their deaths because deer don’t process those foods properly.”

The February session will include a tour of the Hannahville aquaponics with Nick Burns. In August, the group has secured two days of aquatic ecology programming by the Inland Seas Education Association 77-foot schooner UTOPIA at the Escanaba Marina.

There is a fee to participate. If interested, stop by Canterbury Book Store on Ludington Street in Escanaba.