Cure for Cabin Fever
The beauty of tracking is that a naturalist can find a challenge ineven the most mundane surroundings; figuring out the amblings of araccoon in a suburban park, or even of a tunneling shrew in the backyard,can be as fascinating as tracking a bobcat in the mountains.
New York Hot Spots
Still, there is a thrill in covering new ground, or tracking animals yourarely see. National wildlife refuges are terrific starting points, andmany have particular attractions. The huge impoundments, streams, and marshesof Montezuma and Iroquois NWRs in New York, though frozen most of the winter, still attract foxes, raccoons,and mink, and the runs, latrines, and feeding stations of muskrats canbe found near open water.
Directions to Montezuma: Take I-90 to Exit 41 (Waterloo). Turnright onto Route 414 South and drive 0.4 miles to the intersection withRoutes 20/5 East. Turn left. Refuge headquarters is on the left, 1.7miles down the road.
Directions to Iroquois: From I-90, take Route 77 North to the villageof Alabama, then north on Route 63 for 0.9 miles to Casey Road. Turn leftand drive 0.8 miles to the headquarters building, which is open on weekendsin the spring.
Wetlands and upland mammals are also common at GreatMeadows NWR in eastern Massachusetts, both at the Concord andSudbury units.
Directions to Great Meadows: From the Boston area, take Route 2West from I-95 approximately 5 miles, turning right (north) at the signfor Concord Center. Go 1.2 miles, bearing right at the yield sign ontoMain Street, and turn left onto Route 62 East. Go another 1.5 miles andturn left onto Monsen Road, then left again 0.3 miles farther at the signfor the refuge.
Maine Hot Spots
At Moosehorn NWR in Down East Maine, a tracking snow may reveal the signs of snowshoe hares,porcupines, mink, and otters (although, ironically, few moose).
Directions to Moosehorn: Take I-95 to Bangor, then Route 9 Eastto the junction of Route 1 South just west of Calais. Go 3.7 miles andturn right at the refuge sign onto Charlotte Road; the turn into the refugeis another 2.6 miles.
For a real wilderness tracking adventure, consider BaxterState Park in north-central Maine. Moose are more common here thanvirtually anywhere else in New England, and the variety of other mammals deer, otter, coyote, red fox, fisher, pine marten, bobcat, lynx, porcupine,and snowshoe hare among them makes this an exciting place to visit.It is also remote and challenging in winter, requiring cold-weather experienceand the proper equipment.
For information on winter visits, including regulations (which differfrom many state parks) and cabin or bunkhouse reservations, write to theBaxter State Park administration office: 64 Balsam Dr., Millinocket, ME04462; (207) 723-5140.
Directions to Baxter: There are two entrances to the park theTogue Pond gatehouse in the south, 16 miles from Millinocket, and theMatagamon gatehouse in the north, accessible from Patten, 24 miles away.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
Best Hotels in Waterloo