My animal track and sign skills have improved in leaps and bounds this year…and it’s a unique delight to be able to wander the landscape with a group of people just as excited as I am about scat, chews, and other signs of wild creatures that are invisible or unintelligible to most of my other friends. -Roy Ashton
How do you become a skilled tracker?
The Wildlife Tracking Intensive provides in-depth training in the art and science of wildlife tracking for both beginner and advanced students. Visiting a diversity of habitats from the coastal dunes of Oregon to the high deserts of eastern Washington, participants have the opportunity to study and track a great variety of wildlife species.
From snow tracking elusive lynx, bobcat, and cougar in the Cascade Mountains to trailing mink, otter, and bear along riparian sandbars in the Puget Sound, this wildlife tracking course is packed with adventure, challenge, and quality instruction.
Based on Wilderness Awareness School’s Six Arts of Tracking curriculum, this rigorous course trains participants in the many components of animal tracking including:
- Identification of animal track and sign for keying out species and individuals
- Interpretation of gaits and other behaviors from track patterns
- Aging and event sequencing to place activities in time
- Ecological tracking to enable you to predict wildlife activity
- Trailing and backtracking procedures for finding animals
- Observation techniques that help you locate and see more wildlife
Facilitated by highly experienced trackers, David Moskowitz and Marcus Reynerson (see biographies below), the Wildlife Tracking Intensive meets for nine field-based weekends between September and June and utilizes many of the best tracking locations in the Pacific Northwest as our classroom.
Small class size allows us to develop a strong sense of community and camaraderie, and accelerates the learning process. While wildlife tracking is the focus of the course, an overview of human tracking applications is covered as well.
What Graduates Will Learn
Graduates of this tracking course will come away with:
- Strong technical skills in the art and science of wildlife tracking
- A greater knowledge of place and ability to read the landscape
- Experience with the scientific, educational, and recreational applications of tracking
The Wildlife Tracking Intensive is designed to allow people with busy lives to participate. During the year all weekends begin Saturday morning, and 8 of the 10 weekends end on Sunday, while two end on Monday (October and April). About half of the weekends take place in the Puget Sound region of Washington State, while the rest occur in various locations throughout Washington and Oregon.
Through informative presentations, field exercises, and guided independent study, participants in the Wildlife Tracking Intensive gain a unique combination of field experience and technical skills.
Students may choose between the Primary Path and the Advanced Path of the Tracking Intensive.
The primary path of study covers animal tracking fundamentals and essentials and is designed for students with little or no previous tracking experience.
This level is ideal for those who are new to the field of tracking or have previously participated in a weekend or weeklong tracking class. Covering a broad range of skills and applications, you will develop a strong foundation and thorough base of knowledge in tracking.
Some focus topics covered in the primary path include:
- Essential tracking terminology to build your vocabulary and understanding
- Overview of the Six Arts of Tracking to give you a holistic view of the field
- Clear print identification for accurate species determinations
- Gait interpretation for distinguishing speed and direction
- Track aging, effects of weather, and substrate study to answer the question “when?”
- Larders and lacks, understanding seasonal food sources and shelter requirements
- Track by track trailing and tracking sticks to train your eyes to see subtle signs
- Taxonomy and natural history of mammals to understand biological influences
- Journaling techniques that build your visual search images
The advanced path is designed for students who have a significant amount of previous tracking experience. The advanced path is open to second year students in the tracking intensive, or students with comparable skill/experience (determined during the first of the class).
This path begins with a review of intermediate skills and then focuses on highly technical aspects of tracking, including a focus on the art of trailing.
Some focus topics covered in the advanced path include:
- Technical tracking terminology used in advanced resources
- Animal track morphology to determine sex, age, and individuals
- Differentiating tracks of difficult species, including small mammals and birds
- Interpreting dominance, health, and various behaviors from distinctive characteristics
- Scientific documentation methods for biological research
- Predicting wildlife activity and concentrations using topographic maps and aerial photos
- Bone identification and carcass analysis for determining cause and time of death
- Efficient trailing techniques for quickly locating humans and wildlife
- Event sequencing for complex tracking scenarios
Field Journaling and Independent Projects
Students in both the Primary and Advanced Paths of the Tracking Intensive will have to complete 25 clear-print Tracking Journals over the course of the year, which will reflect a minimum of 25 hours of field time outside of class. If students have already completed Tracking Journals before starting the class, they can apply those towards their total of 25.
In addition to the 25 clear-print Tracking Journals, students seeking Advanced Path completion will choose between developing a research project which will be carried out throughout the class year under the guidance of the instructional staff, or completing a rigorous module of field journals specific to the art of wildlife trailing. Projects from previous year’s students include naturalist, scientific, educational, and artistic focuses. Students have the opportunity to blend their projects with ongoing research projects such as the Cascade Wildlife Monitoring Project. The trailing journal module will require students to complete thorough field notes that reflect a minimum of 70 hours of field time outside of class throughout the year.
At the conclusion of the program, students will have their tracking skill level evaluated in a rigorous field test. Wilderness Awareness School’s Wildlife Tracking Intensive is pleased to be hosting a CyberTracker Conservation Tracker Evaluation facilitated by Casey McFarland.
The purpose of this wildlife tracking evaluation is for you to be able to recognize and celebrate your growth, know your strengths and weaknesses, and bring greater credibility to your tracking skills. Evaluation is a common method utilized to certify competent practitioners within a field to establish credibility and aid in gaining employment.
As trackers become more involved in wildlife monitoring and research, it is important to test and certify observer reliability.
CyberTracker Conservation Tracker Evaluations stand on their own outside every school and every curriculum, and thus evaluations are open to anyone with interest. For more information on the CyberTracker Conservation Tracker Evaluation visit TrackerCertification.com. Please Note: Cybertracker Evaluation is not included in the Audit option, though Auditing students are welcome to sign up if space is available. Fee is $250.
Transferable undergraduate college credit through Western State College is available for interested Wildlife Tracking Intensive students. It is 6 credits in Biology (available for either the primary path or advanced path). WSC charges additional tuition fees for this credit. The current cost is $125 per credit hour for a total of $750, please check the Western State College’s website for the most up-to-date information about tuition fees charged by WSC. NOTE: The Tracking Intensive is listed on their website as “Anake Tracking Courses,” and is found on the same page below “Anake Residential Program”). Contact us if you have further questions about college credit.
Graduates of this tracking course receive a certificate of completion and come away with a skill set equally applicable in wildlife sciences, environmental education, or personal exploration in the natural world. After a year in the Tracking Intensive you will certainly never look at the ground the same way again.
For those people who cannot attend all weekends, we are now offering the opportunity to attend 6 weekends (See Calendar below) at a reduced rate, as well as 9 additional field days at our monthly Tracking Club. This option covers animal tracking fundamentals and essentials and is designed for students who want a solid introduction to wildlife tracking. This option is available for working professionals who would like to audit the class by just attending weekends without the commitment of journaling and field assignments between classes.
Course Registration Details
10 weekends from September 2013 to June 2014
Where? Western Washington
Who? Ages 18+ How much? Primary or Advanced Path- $2,250; Audit Only 6 Weekends - $1,475 - cost includes all instruction and course materials, plus Tracking Club membership
The Tracking Intensive at a Glance
Tuition for Primary or Advanced Path: $2,250 (includes a $500 Non-Refundable Deposit)
Tuition for Audit Option: $1,475 (includes a $350 Non-Refundable Deposit)
Tuition includes all instruction and course materials.Tuition includes the above non-refundable deposit to secure your enrollment in the course, and then the balance is due in 3 quarterly payments. Contact us for scholarship information. There is an additional $150 fee if you register to receive college credit from WSC (see below).
Duration: Ten weekends (one weekend each month from September to June). 2013-2014 dates:
- May 25-26, 2013 (final weekend)
- June 8-9, 2013 (Optional Cybertracker Evaluation)
2013-14 Tracking Intensive Schedule:
- Sept 7-8, 2013
- Oct 5-7 (3-Day weekend)
- Nov 2-3 **
- Dec 7-8
- Jan 25-26, 2014
- Feb 22-23 **
- March 29-30
- April 26-28 (3-Day weekend) **
- May 31-June 1
- June 14-15, 2014 (Cybertracker Evaluation) **
**These weekends are NOT available for Auditing students
Location: Pacific Northwest, 50% at various sites within the Puget Sound region of Washington State, 50% at locations further afield in Washington and Oregon.
Instructors: David Moskowitz and Marcus Reynerson. See biographies below.
College Credit: 6 transferable undergraduate college credits through Western State College are available to interested students (see College Credit above). WSC tuition fees are an additional $750, and there is an additional $150 fee from Wilderness Awareness School to register for college credit.
Enrollment: Limited to 20 participants total between primary and advanced paths of study.
Intensive Studies Student Discount: To honor your contributions to our learning community and encourage continuing education, the Retail Sales Department offers intensive studies students an ongoing discount of 10% on the comprehensive selection of nature books and gifts in our on-line store. Students receive instructions for ordering with this discount upon enrolling.
Meet Your Instructors
David Moskowitz is our Wildlife Tracking Intensive Instructor and a project manager for the Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project. He joined Wilderness Awareness School in 2005, bringing with him over a decade of experience teaching outdoor and environmental education throughout the United States including at Outward Bound and the North Cascades Institute. He is the author of the books Wildlife of the Pacific Northwest and Wolves in the Land of Salmon.
David is a skilled field researcher and has been involved with forest carnivore research and wildlife monitoring in the Cascades for many years as well as avian research in the Puget Sound area. He holds a bachelors degree in Environmental Studies through Prescott College with an emphasis on Field Ecology and Wildlife Tracking. Along with tracking wild animals, Dave is also passionate about mountaineering, environmental activism and photography.
Marcus has lived close to the natural world throughout his life and some of his earliest memories include hunting and fishing in the muggy marshes and pine forests of south Louisiana and the gulf coast of south Texas. Thanks to a childhood of time spent outdoors, Marcus got an early start working in the environmental education field. After leading teens on backpacking trips and trail crews during college, and completing a semester with the National Outdoor Leadership School in 2000, he earned a degree in Environmental Studies from Miami University in Oxford, OH in 2002. Marcus went on to serve as a conservation programs director for Philmont Scout Ranch in Northern New Mexico and then as a lead naturalist at an outdoor education center in Southern California. He was drawn to Washington from Louisville, Kentucky, to attend the Anake Outdoor School in 2005. A year later, he served as an apprentice for the program before becoming an instructor in the fall of 2007.
In addition to working at Wilderness Awareness School, Marcus also leads trips with teens and young adults at Way Leads To Way Student Expeditions and is certified as a Track and Sign Specialist through Cybertracker Conservation by scoring 100% on their internationally standardized evaluation process. On top of immersion in nature, Marcus enjoys playing guitar, traveling, backpacking, fishing, sitting around a fire with friends, life near the ocean, and tends to be fond of any music with a good twang.