This spring I spent a week out in the field with several colleagues from Cybertracker Conservation honing our tracking and trailing skills following the trails of black bears on the western slope of the North Cascades. I put together a brief video describing the art of trailing and documenting some of what we discovered on our adventures in the temperate rainforest.
Black bears, mountain lions, and much much more...
May marked the end of this years Wildlife Tracking Intensive at Wilderness Awareness School. We spent one more weekend exploring wild lands in the region looking for tracks and signs of wildlife and testing our skills in the field.
Advanced Path Student Projects
Saturday afternoon our two Advanced Path students presented on their research projects.
Thanks to all of our students this year for their passion for developing their skills as wildlife trackers and naturalists! It was another great year!
Interested in learning more about the Wildlife Tracking Intensive? Check it out here! Applications now being accepted for next years class which starts in September!
This weekend was the 6th weekend of 9 for the year-long Wildlife Tracking Intensive I teach for Wilderness Awareness School. This month we spent Saturday searching for signs of large carnivores and other creatures in the dense rainforests of the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River on the western slope of the Cascades. Among other things we discovered the following tracks and signs:
- Feeeding and scent marking signs of black bears
- Scent marking signs of a mountain lion
- Beaver feeding and dam building activity
- Black-tailed deer and elk sign including antler rubs, trails, tracks, scats and feeding sign
On Sunday we ventured out to the banks of the Puget Sound where students were quizzed on a wide variety of tracks and signs, including identifying and interpreting the story behind the remains of numerous species of birds we discovered. Tracks and signs we found included:
- Tracks of: racoon, river otter, feral house cat, mink, muskrat, opossum, black rat, deer mouse, shrew, American robin, sparrow, black-crowned night heron, teal.
- River otter scent marking sign
- Pellets from several species of owls containing vole remains
- Northern harrier pellets
- The remains of a barn owl, a short-eared owl, several snow geese, a female pheasant, and several species of ducks most of which appeared to have been predated by areal predators.
On Sunday, besides tracks and signs, the birding was quite good. We observed four snowy owls, a short-eared owl, numerous Northern harriers and other hawks, dunlin, yellow-legs, pintails, widgeons, western meadowlarks, snow geese, trumpeter swans, and many other species.
In mid-June North Cascades Institute hosted the first Wildlife Tracking Certification Event in North Cascades National Park. Besides a diversity of tracks and signs some challenging field conditions including some classic North Cascades rain and multi-element bushwacking/wading added to the experience for myself as the evaluator and for participants! Here are a few of the highlights from the Evaluation.
Congratulations to everyone who participated in the Evaluation. Of 10 participants, 3 Level III , 3 Level II , and one Level I certificates were awarded. For a list of certified trackers in North America click here.
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.
A long day sitting along a river here in the Great Bear rainforest trying to stay dry and not get eaten alive by bugs. The only large mammal out and about today besides us was this yearling black bear which poked around in the river briefly before nearly walking into my blind before I said hello and it ran off into the forest.On the way back in the evening we passed an absolutely massive barge carrying a huge amount of timber heading. Hard to tell from this image but the barge is multiple stories tall. Bet the bears where those logs came from are having a worse day than the fellow who ran into me this morning.To find out more about conservation issues related to the Great Bear Rainforest visit Raincoast Conservation Foundation's website at www.raincoast.org
A week of journeying by land and sea has yielded some great results as I continue to collect material for my forthcoming book on Wolves of the Pacific Northwest. I am tremendously grateful to Steve and Susanne Lawson for their invaluable assistance in my fieldwork here in Clayoquot Sound thus far! Stay tuned for more photos and stories to come!
A few images from a recent trip to the 7 Lakes Basin in Olympic National Park.
Despite decades of conservation efforts, Clayoquot Sound, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, faces numerous severe threats to its ecological integrity including clear cut logging of roadless old growth forests, industrial Atlantic salmon fish farms, and proposed open-pit copper mining. Learn more about the region and how you can support conservation in the region at the following websites:Friends of Clayoquot Sound Clayoquot Biosphere Reserve First Nations Environmental Network