Keystone can hunt 2015
In the tradition of Keystone State Park naturalist George Bird Grinnell, long-time curator John Bush will search for the largest canid mammal in North America. Bush will look for signs of coyote, wolf and red fox by visiting remote sites in the park during late January.
Bush has been a naturalist at Keystone since 1973. He will use information from Grinnell and earlier naturalists to interpret the park’s plant and animal population. He will follow in their path, covering snowshoes, by horseback and on cross-country skis to check remote sites for paw prints, dens, claw marks or other signs that canids have passed through.
“I think we have red fox in the park,” Bush said. “We have coyote based on tracks and sightings. I’m hoping to find wolf tracks this time. Most likely we have them but haven’t run across them.”
What is keystone can hunt
The Keystone State Park naturalist program is a unique volunteer effort to identify and preserve keystone animals. The program is supported by a group of volunteers with an interest in big game. Bush and his two assistants will search for signs of coyote, wolf and red fox that may be within the park boundaries. They will look for sightings, scat samples, tracks, bones and paw prints. Other signs of these mammals such as fur and broken bushes will also be examined. “Keystone can hunt” is the state park naturalist program’s way of identifying and preserving Pennsylvania’s three native big game mammals.
Keystone Can Hunt
An oratorio by Dr. Ronald D. Powell June 6, 2016 Music for Orchestra Tenor Soloists: Matthew Terry, Donald James Vargo
How to play keystone can hunt
Signs, or “tracks” of these mammals will be observed at remote sites in the park, like in-field ponds and streams. “Paw print identification” of each mammal will be made by looking at the size and shape of the prints. Scat samples will also be examined to determine if red fox were present or not. If wolf scat is found, it will be collected and transported to the park laboratory.
Various methods will be used to identify the “canis lupus” (gray wolf). Computer imaging helps in identifying the species of animals as well as their sex, age, and body features. Paleontologists also use “limb-to-limb” measurements to determine the age of a specimen. Other tools include looking at tooth fragments, pelvis fragments and other parts found in an animal’s stomach. DNA tests are also used to distinguish between different wolf populations. The most useful tool is looking at “wolf teeth. The teeth of wolves with a full complement of “canine” (cavity) teeth are said to be more representative of the original population.
The Canis Lupus (Gray Wolf) Project wants to know how the wolf population is distributed in North America, their habitat and behavior patterns, what their interaction is with other mammals, their human interactions, food habits and prey selection. The project will also study when and where gray wolves served as an apex predator over the last 100 years.