Odd tracks in the snow: What’s your explanation?

Somewhat unintentionally, over the past few months the “Out There” blog has become a clearinghouse for odd photos, unexplained events, and generally outdoor oddities.

That’s fine with me. Spend enough time outdoors, I figure, and you’re bound to find things that stump you.

I recently received an email from Ed Ford of Hermon, who had some photos he wanted to share.

Tracks through the snow, with something dragging to leave a long mark. What made the tracks? (Photo courtesy of Ed Ford)

Tracks through the snow, with something dragging to leave a long mark. What made the tracks? (Photo courtesy of Ed Ford)

“I don’t think this is odd, I just can’t explain it,” Ford wrote. “Any of your readers seen this in the snow?”

Ford explained that he lives on Outer Union Street, which leads west out of Bangor and features plenty of farms and forests.

“These footprints were just noticed this morning,” Ford wrote. “At first, I though, ‘easy ID … dog-style animal dragging his tail,’ but upon a closer inspection the tail is not busy, as you can see as it ‘cuts’ into the snow, and there are no softened edges on this line anywhere and it doesn’t waver back and forth to follow a gait, as a tail would, especially a tail that would have to be this large.”

Ford explained that the cut in the snow is about an inch and a half wide by an inch and a half deep. The gait of the animal is about 24 inches long.

Dog-like tracks in the snow. (Photo courtesy of Ed Ford)

Dog-like tracks in the snow. (Photo courtesy of Ed Ford)

“I also thought [these tracks were made] by an animal dragging something — stick, bone, etc. — but this can’t be as the line follows the gait without wavering. Also, this cut in the snow never wavers, and is a clean-cut line in the snow like if you or I dragged something at a perfect 90-degree angle,” he wrote. “And if the animal was dragging something underneath it, there would certainly be some correcting or adjustments in the gait. There is none of this throughout the approximately 100 yards of tracks across snow.

“This animal is also clearly not in a hunting mode as there is no stopping, breaking the snow with [nose] or paw.”

One photo in particular caught Ford’s eye.

One photo that particularly stumped Ed Ford: The tail of the animal swings three feet to the side while another part of the critter makes a separate mark. (Photo courtesy of Ed Ford)

One photo that particularly stumped Ed Ford: The tail of the animal swings three feet to the side while another part of the critter makes a separate mark. (Photo courtesy of Ed Ford)

“The animal, still walking, turns and the tail marks actually swing out approximately three feet, still cutting into the snow (with some other surface dragging from another part of the body,” Ford wrote. “One pic also shows the foot has a ‘spur’ of some nature as this wasn’t a foot-into-foot print.”

Ford took his time looking at the tracks, and has passed along plenty of photos, which I’ve shared here.

“There was approximately 100 yards to study as [the animal] traversed around the yard and crossed Union Street, right next to a horse farm [that also has] pigs,” he wrote.

What made these tracks? (Photo courtesy of Ed Ford)

What made these tracks? (Photo courtesy of Ed Ford)

So, it’s up to you (again), readers. What made these tracks?

 

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John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.