Animal track hike draws city folk

NEW ULM – Woodpeckers and ice breaking up on the nearby Cottonwood River added sound to a guided snowshoe hike Saturday at Flandrau State Park.

Despite the melting snow and ice in much of the area, snow remains common on park trails, but not enough to require snowshoes. Hikes last about an hour.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Area Naturalist Scott Kudelka led the hike through forest and prairie that revealed tracks of 15 different animals. Tracks in the snow were created by deer, wild turkeys, beaver, porcupine, chipmunk, muskrat, rabbits, raccoons, turtles, woodchucks, pheasants and gray fox, to mention a few.

Kudelka created tracks identifying timber wolves and otters prior to the hike.

“We live in St. Paul near the Mississippi River but we’re finding out a lot more about nature here,” said Charlie Vander Aarde, who brought his family to New Ulm for the weekend for the first time.

“We’ll cook Easter dinner Sunday over an open fire,” Vander Aarde said. “We’re enjoying staying in the state park cabins with another family. It’s great to be able to take kids from the city and watch them learn about nature with such enthusiasm.”

A guest the animals tracks activity follows the hikes.

Other state park events include stargazing with WCCO radio meteorologist MIke Lynch at 7:45 p.m., Saturday, April 13 at Fort Ridgely State Park.

There is no charge to attend events but vehicles are required to have permits ($5 a day, $25 year around) that can be bought at the park.

For more information, please visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/flandrau/index.html to call 1-888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Kudelka can be reached at 507-384-8890 or scott.kudelka@state.mn.us.

Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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