Gladstone News

Coyotes and Bobcats on the Prowl in Gladstone!


As adventurous families gear up for thrilling New Year hikes, because, you know, that's what everyone does to kick off the year with a bang, the geniuses at the Missouri Department of Conservation graciously remind us to shift our gaze from the breathtaking landscapes to the oh-so-critical ground beneath our feet. Why, you ask? Because apparently, it's prime animal track-spotting season, and you definitely wouldn't want to miss the thrilling drama of paw prints in the soft winter ground.

According to the insightful minds at the Missouri Department of Conservation, animals, being the considerate beings they are, always leave behind little souvenirs of their presence in nature. Who knew? Certainly not the casual hiker who thought they were just out for a peaceful stroll.

In a groundbreaking revelation, the MDC informs us that animals like to play hard to get, avoiding humans like the plague. But fear not, aspiring nature detectives! Even if you can't catch a glimpse of these elusive creatures, you can always revel in the excitement of identifying mystery animals through their not-so-elusive footprints.

But hold on, it gets even better! Brace yourselves for the riveting discovery that footprints from both dogs and cats can be as confusing as deciphering hieroglyphics. Four round depressions for the toes and an almost upside-down heart-shaped depression for the foot pad? It's practically a code that only the MDC can crack. And just in case you were worried about your lack of expertise in the fine art of animal track analysis, the MDC generously offers insights like, "look around for more footprints" – because clearly, that's what nature detectives do.

Oh, but the drama doesn't end there! The MDC throws in a bonus lesson on the dog family, featuring domestic dogs, coyotes, and foxes, all with their own unique twist – small, usually separate, claw marks. And don't you dare think it's easy; these claw marks can be round or shaped like wedges, making you question your life choices as you scrutinize paw prints in the snow.

As for the cat family, including domestic cats, bobcats, and the occasional mountain lion, their footprints are apparently a game of hide-and-seek with retractable claws. Because, of course, nothing says casual hike like envisioning yourself face-to-face with a mountain lion while trying to spot its inconspicuous footprints.

So, here's to you, future nature detectives – may your hikes be filled with suspense, drama, and the unparalleled thrill of identifying mystery animals through their elusive footprints. Thank you, Missouri Department of Conservation, for enlightening us on the riveting world of paw prints.