Children learned to solve mysteries based on the clues left behind by animals during Wildlife Safari’s Conservation Science Investigation summer camp.

On Wednesday the scenario read: “Found tiny track running across the snowy pasture. Each track was just 1/4 inch long. Followed the tracks for 6 feet into the wide-open pasture. Suddenly, the tracks disappeared. At the trail’s end, there were two crescent-shaped marks that looked like a small snow angel. Under a maple tree nearby, discovered bones and fur packed together in a tight gray ball.”

Campers had a few minutes to come to a conclusion on what may have occurred. When Lead Summer Camp Counselor Christina Pintado called upon 8-year-old Brooke Sexton, Brooke said, “I think a mouse was running across the pasture and an owl swooped down and ate it.”

Brooke likely wasn’t too far off. The tracks were left by a rodent, although it’s impossible to say exactly what rodent, and the tight gray ball was likely an owl pellet.

Brooke said the ball of bones made her think it was an owl. Pintado pointed out that hawks and eagles also have pellets, but it likely was an owl since the scenario was recorded at 6 a.m.

The crescent-shaped marks would’ve been left behind when the owl took off.

Plans were diverted a little bit Wednesday as the outdoor camp was moved indoors because of the rain.

So the campers made fish art and learned about different tracks animals leave behind.

“Scientists can’t always find the actual animals,” Pintado said. “But their tracks — fur, feathers and teeth — are clues on how they act in nature.”

Tracks were taught on Wednesday, but a lesson on teeth took place earlier in the week.

“I’ve learned that different animals have different teeth,” 8-year-old Zoe John said.

Matthew Bouck, 8, said he was having a lot of fun at the camp and learned that if you see cat tracks with the claws out, it’s probably a cheetah.

Pintado showed different footprints to the class, but when it came to the print of the Patagonian cavy, or mara, the campers were stumped.

For several minutes the campers tried to guess what animal the prints belonged to, but even with clues from the Wildlife Safari staff, they were unable to solve the mystery.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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Education Reporter

Sanne Godfrey is the education reporter for The News-Review.

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