Using tracks to identify males/females

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New Member
Sep 30, 2003
I'm currenlty working on a project which uses footprints to monitor the presence of N. American mink within a river catchment. The system (of 'track-trap') we use is based on that devised by the Game Conservancy Trust. The Trust has done some research with Bangor University into identifying individual animals using the very clear tracks. Various track dimensions of various animals (some of known sex, size, etc.) were meticulously measured and these measurements fed into a statistical programme which looked at sorting the tracks into distinct groupings based on track differences.

Interestingly, not only could the data not identify individual animals, but also found too much overlap between full-grown males and females to reliably separate the sexes based in the individual tracks! This is suprising considering that a male mink is, on average, twice the body weight of a female. It's still early days and there are many more tracks to analyse but this is food for thought (at least for me it is!). This particular study was not able to look at gait patterns which are I'm sure very important.

I know that the bushmen of S. Africa have had their skills put to the test under scientifically-controlled conditions and they (unsuprisingly!) fared very well with astonishingly correct interpretations of wildlife activities. I would be interested to hear about other situations where the use of tracks for separating individuals or the sexes has been tested.

Great to see so many people interested in tracking.


Need to contact Admin...
Jun 27, 2004
Monterey Peninsula, Ca., USA
Sometimes there are very subtle differences in a track, or it may be where the track is found at what time of the year and other signs and tracks around it that determines which gender made the track.

Other times, as is the case of the whitetailed deer, the track differences are obvious. A boss female will have a track that can be similar in size to a mature males track, but it is lacking the dew claw of the mature male.

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