While scouting for teaching locations for the Wildlife Tracking Intensive at the end of April, Alexia Allen and I spotted a small rodent moving through the leaf litter in a riparian forest close to the Hoh River on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula. I quickly reached down and captured the little grey creature who was kind enough to pose for a few photographs!
Congratulations to all 11 folks who participated in the Track and Sign Certification Event in wild Swan Valley of northwestern Montana this past weekend, all of whom earned a certificate through Cybertracker Conservation!The event was hosted by Northwest Connections in the very quiet town of Condon. It was great getting to know more about this creative and inspiring organizaiton whose mission to “Integrate Science, Education and Community in the Conservation of Rural Working Landscapes”. I highly recommend any and all of the various educational opportunities they have to offer and hope to be back there soon! A special thanks also to Nick Sharp, Wildlife Conservation Society Biologist, and Doctoral student at the University of Montana, who organized the event (and put in a stellar performance on the Evaluation!)Over the course of the two days of the Evaluation, participants were given 70 different questions about tracks and signs discovered in the field. Species varied from voles to grizzly bears and the handiwork of everything from a bushytailed woodrat to a backhoe. Along with covering as diverse a set of tracks and signs as is possible over two days, the evaluation includes questions ranging from very simple (such as a clear deer track) to very challenging (such as interpreting the behavior of an elk which had scraped bark off of the trunk of an aspen with its incisors). For more information on Cybertracker Conservation Wildlife Tracking Evaluation methods click here.
Here are photos of some of the things that were on the Evaluation and the questions about them. All questions are based on actual tracks and signs discovered in the field by evaluators during the Evaluation. After all of the participants have the opportunity to answer each question, the track or sign is discussed as a group and the evaluators carefully explain the correct answer and discuss why it could or could not be various other species, often using illustrations and other resources to help illustrate key features.
Interested in participating in a Certification Event or hosting one? Find a list of future events I am running at davidmoskowitz.net. Our North American website for all Tracking Certification events is currently underconstruction. Send me an email if you want to discuss details on hosting an event or links to Certification Events in other parts of the country!
Just home from a week and a half of adventuring in northern Wisconsin where I participated in a collaboration between Teaching Drum Outdoor School and Wilderness Awareness School on Wisconsin Wolf Tracking Expedition, joined by former Wilderness Awareness School Instructor and founder of the Earth Native Wilderness School, David Scott. Teaching Drum hosted the program which was held very close to the School’s home base near the town of Three Lakes, Wisconsin.Despite unseasonably warm conditions on several of the days and a lack of fresh snow for the first half of the class, snow conditions allowed us to peice together some amazing stories about the wolves of the region and the other wildlife that share the North Woods with them.
Spent 4 of the last 5 nights out in the field, attaining a sense of oneness with the river, the tides, the migrating salmon, the moss and lichen cloaked trees of the rainforest, the bloodthirsty blackflies, and the ever present aroma of rotting fish carcasses–the good life. Several interesting encounters with wolves which I’m sure will make it into the book.Flying south tomorrow and home the day after. Now that all the field work is completed, I reckon I’ll be chained to my computer for the next month and half writing. Don’t think I’ll be posting daily updates.
Heavy fog slowed our arrival at field sight. We likely scared them out of the stream when we showed up. Found a ton of headless salmon and a couple laying the grass still flopping. Got a few images of one animal. Heading back out this evening to camp for a few nights in an attempt to be out there at first light without disturbing them! Wish me luck! May be a few days before my next post.A raven taunts a wolf in morning fog.
Well, we were right to be hopeful. The wolves came. And the wolves caught and ate salmon. Right in the stream in front of the blind were we were set up to photograph. During the night between when we left at sundown and before we arrived at first light. We did watch one wolf skirt the edge of the meadow we are set up on later in the morning but didn’t take any photographs.When we left the pink salmon were literally streaming into the mouth of the creek on the rising tide so we will see what tomorrow holds!
Rain, wind and looming deadline for three chapters of writing kept me in yesterday. Today Doug and I spent most of the day in the location we photographed the pups a week ago. Tons of pinks in the river and we heard howling just as we were packing up to leave at dark. Optimistic about tomorrow!Find out more about my project on Wolves in the Pacific Northwest!