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How to Make a Plaster Cast of Animal Tracks in the Snow

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A blanket of snow covers the ground: It’s prime time for animal tracking. So why does your cast of that picture-perfect raccoon print look like it came from an eight-toed alien?

Don’t give up just yet. Making plaster casts of tracks in snow is tricky but not impossible.

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Before you cast, reinforce the track so it can stand up to the weight of the plaster. If the snow is wet, dust it with some powdered plaster and let it set. If the snow is dry and powdery, spray a mist of water over the track and wait for it to freeze. You can also try using Snow Print Wax — crime-scene investigators use it to collect evidence.

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Plaster gives off heat as it hardens. When casting in snow, mix the plaster to the thickness of half-melted ice cream, adding some snow to cool it down. Pour from a short distance to minimize damage to the track.

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If the plaster freezes before it sets, turn the cast track-side up and bring it inside to thaw and finish setting.

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