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Beavers

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IMG_6655.jpeg
I stared at these marks on the ice at Liberty Reservoir last week, wondering what made the marks. My theory is beavers crossed here. Anybody know?

Also, last week, I snuck up on the biggest beaver I ever saw while it was up on a bank of the Patuxent River. I was floating downstream, so I don't think it heard me coming. Before it started moving, I thought it was a big black plastic trash bag full of trash. Including the tail, it was probably over 50" long and it was hugely fat. Later, I learned beavers keep growing their whole life and may reach 70 pounds. Sadly, I was wearing leather gloves that fit tightly over glove liners, so while my phone was handy, the gloves kept me from operating the touch screen and taking a picture. Another reason to carry a dedicated camera!
 
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i was thinking otters too. But other times when I had seen otter tracks, they tend to leave lengths of obvious footprint running tracks, followed by sliding furrows as they aternately run and then slide through snow across the landscape. I think they just like to have fun.
 
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The meandering pattern of the tracks and the tail drag marks everywhere makes me think beaver. Otter slide prints are more linear, and interrupted by running.
 
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There must have been slushy snow on top of ice when the tracks were made. To the left of the camera there was a "slide" along the shore that looked like a beaver access point. There were trees showing beaver chewing in that area, and my guess is also beavers. I just never saw tracks like that, almost like a little mini snow plow with a drunk driver had driven through.
 
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The meandering pattern of the tracks and the tail drag marks everywhere makes me think beaver. Otter slide prints are more linear, and interrupted by running.
We often see otter slides that run for hundreds of yards with nothing but the occasional paw print where they give themselves a shove, much like a skateboarder kick glide
 
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We've got a very large beaver complex above us, multiple dams, pools dug into the old wet field, even a beaver Venice. A center lodge with canals dug out like spokes of a wheel to an outer ring over a hundred feet from the brook in this wet field.

The otters have also moved in, a couple of winters ago I followed a slide uphill from the brook for well over a 1/4 mile.
 
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Interesting track pattern! I tend to only associate otter with sliding in the snow, but the photo looks more like a mink or fisher?
 
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I have never seen a Fisher glissading on the snow before either, but it was definitely the larger male Fisher; my son watched him slide down the hill and took a photo of the track. The paw prints in the track were spaced about 18” apart, with a single hind leg push to keep momentum going.

I had never seen a Fisher hereabouts until a year ago, first one on a trail near Gunpowder Falls, now two in the yard. Fishers have been making a comeback; we have everything their diet could desire and plenty of mature tree den cavities.

https://dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/P...d (locally,the Northern Rockies and Northwest.

It might explain why, for the first time, we have had zero mouse problems for the last two years. Now if they would just do a better job on the damn squirrels.
 
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Chip any chance it is canoe loaded with ugly bags of mostly water carrying paddles sliding along ice to get to open water. I have done that a number of times and it can leave similar marks.
 
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