yes, i take pictures of animal scats in the woods.
yes, sometimes i do poke them with a stick.
yes, sometimes i do touch it with my hand if necessary.
for starters, all this dung in the woods is very informative. it tells you a lot about what species are out there, and if you look closely you can tell a lot about what they're eating, which tells you about the health of the animal and the habitat. it's interesting stuff.
and why, you ask, would it be necessary to touch any of it with my hand?
to see if it's still warm.
if you have in front of you an enormous pile of bearshit AND it's fresh enough not to have developed a skin yet, you NEED to know if it's still warm. this is a safety issue. if you find a pile of really fresh bearshit, you have to get out of there NOW.
if it's not that fresh but it's still today's edition, you have to be careful.
this particular pile is less than eighteen hours old. the bear is pretty good sized, and it's been eating mostly plant material, which means if i looked a little sick or sleepy, i could be on the menu. this bear would enjoy a little sumthin' meaty. he ain't starving, but he'd like a little more protein.
but this pile has also developed a little skin on it, so even though it's fresh, i know it's at least a couple of hours old and if i just look sharp and stay alert, i won't be seeing the bear, and i won't be on the menu.