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​Find past newsletter articles, press releases, and other media showcasing local agriculture, placed-based education, and conservation of natural resources in Sullivan County.

Off the Beaten Path

Nature detectives use all sorts of clues to figure out the story of what's going on with the animals in the woods. A month or so ago, I was exploring my backyard more in-depth, climbing over rocks and such, when my friend noticed a huge pile of scat.

Scat is the scientific word for animal poop. And you can tell a lot about an animal by investigating its scat. The scat we saw looked like it was from an herbivore, because it looked like bits of sawdust. When we looked a little closer, we also saw many 2" long quills.

So we started to look for a porcupine, the only thing we knew that had quills. We never found the animal, but we did find more signs... Hemlock branches bit off near the end all over the ground, more scat and quills in other rock crevices, some hair, and a well-trodden path. We think the porcupine was using the rock pile as a den.

I encourage you to be a nature detective too! Look for all the signs and clues that an animal has been around and try to figure out what happened or who left those clues. Make sure not to touch any scat with your hand or to get your face too close to it. It's not good to breathe in scat dust!

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