Various PNW Locations
$1975 – $2895
May. 17-21 (Participants will attend 3 of the 5 days)
“Tracking Intensive is like a crash course in a new language – this first script written on the land, and the stories rich in love, mystery, drama and death. The WAS teaching team are fantastic guides to the discovery of these stories in spectacular places – my life has been enriched immeasurably!“– Sarah, 2016 T.I. Graduate
Stories are unfolding on the landscape every day.
The Wildlife Tracking Intensive provides in-depth training in the art and science of wildlife tracking for both beginner and advanced students. Visiting a broad range of habitats, including the temperate rainforest, coastal dunes, riparian areas, deep forests, high mountains, and high deserts, participants have the opportunity to study and track a great variety of wildlife species.
Facilitated by highly experienced trackers, the Wildlife Tracking Intensive meets for nine field-based weekends between September and May 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.
- 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 and understand ecological connections in different habitats
- Trailing and backtracking procedures for finding animals
- Observation techniques that help you locate and see more wildlife
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. While wildlife tracking is the focus of the course, an overview of human tracking applications is covered as well, leaving you with:
- A greater knowledge of place, cultural history, ecological webs, and ability to read the landscape.
- Experience with the scientific, educational, and recreational applications of tracking.
- Strong technical skills in the art and science of wildlife tracking.
From tracking wolves, bobcats, and cougar in the Cascade Mountains and Eastern Washington deserts, to trailing mink, otter, and bear along riparian sandbars in the Puget Sound, to trailing mammals in the snow, this wildlife tracking course is packed with adventure, long-lasting learning, and high-quality instruction.
Three Course Paths
We’ve designed this class around three path options – the primary, advanced, and audit path. Read on to discover which option is best for you, and to learn about evaluations and college credit.
This level is ideal for those who are new to the field of tracking or have previously participated in a weekend or week-long tracking class. We cover a broad range of skills including animal tracking fundamentals and essentials. Requires time outside of class – see Field Journaling and Independent Study below. The cost of the Primary Path is $2895.
What’s Covered in the Primary Path?
- 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.
- Trailing by track trailing, reading the landscape, cutting for sign, and tracking spoor and sign to train your eyes to see subtle signs.
- Taxonomy and natural history of mammals to understand biological influences and ecological webs
- Journaling techniques that build your visual search images.
In addition to the learning that is covered at the primary level, this level is designed for students who have a significant amount of previous tracking experience and is open to second-year/ returning alumni students in the tracking intensive, or students with comparable skill/experience (determined during the first class). Requires field time and additional field assignments outside of class – see Field Journaling and Independent Study below. The cost of the Advanced Path is $2895.
Audit Path (full for 2022-2023)
We also offer the opportunity to attend 7 weekends 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 offers a solid introduction to wildlife tracking. It’s perfect for working professionals who’d like to audit the class by just attending weekends without the commitment of journaling and field assignments between classes. Students will attend each weekend except the November and March weekends. The CyberTracker Evaluation in May is not included in the Audit path, but the final class day in May is included. The cost of the Audit Path is $1975.
Field Journaling and Independent Projects for Both Primary and Advanced Paths
Students in both the Primary and Advanced Paths of the Tracking Intensive will have to complete 14 clear-print Tracking Journals over the course of the year, which will reflect field time outside of class. If students have already completed Tracking Journals before starting the class, they can apply those towards their total of 14.
Additional Assignment for Advanced Path
In addition to the 14 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.
CyberTracker™ Conservation Tracker Evaluation. Through this you’ll be able to recognize and celebrate your growth, know your strengths and weaknesses, and bring greater credibility to your tracking skills. The CyberTracker™ Conservation Tracker Evaluation stands on its own outside every school and every curriculum. Evaluations are open to anyone with interest. For more information visit TrackerCertification.com. Please Note: Cybertracker Evaluation is not included in the Audit option, though Auditing students are welcome to sign up for an additional fee, space permitting.
You may pay for this course in full, or opt to pay with the Quarterly Plan or the Monthly Plan. Please contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org for payment plan details.
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 website for the most up-to-date information about tuition fees charged by WSC. NOTE: The Tracking Intensive is listed on their website as “The Immersion Tracking Courses,” and is found on the same page below “The Immersion 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 skillset equally applicable in wildlife sciences, environmental education, or personal exploration in the natural world. After a year in Tracking Intensive, you will feel more connected to the rich wildlife and landscapes that surround you.
Class Schedule & Topics
Below is an outlined schedule of the nine class weekends, some of this is subject to change due to weather, conditions, and incredible opportunities that may arise. Please note that our May weekend dates for the CyberTracker Evaluation may change. Participants of the Primary and Advanced path will take a 2-day evaluation during the May 17-20 window (May 17-18 OR May 19-20). The final day of the course for everyone is May 21.
September: Skills Assessment
Sept. 17-18 | Duvall, WA
October: Track ID, Gaits, and Trailing
Oct. 8-10 | Umpqua Dunes, Central OR Coast
November: Wildlife Ecology
Nov. 5-6 | Columbia River Basin
December: Signs & Skull Analysis
Dec. 3-4 | Puget Sound Region
January: Snow Tracking & Mountains
Jan. 28-29 | WA Mountains and Lowlands
February: Ecological Tracking
Feb. 18-19 | Olympic Peninsula
March: Desert Ecology
Mar. 18-19 | Umtanum Canyon, Eastern WA
April: Ecology of North Cascades
Apr. 22-24 | Colville National Forest
May: Evaluation & Celebration
May 17-21* Dates still in process | Duvall, WA
Meet Your Core Instructors
Mark Kang O’Higgins
Mark has been a part of the Tracking Intensive since 2008. He is the Lead Instructor and Coordinator of the program. Mark is a Track and Sign Specialist certified by CyberTracker International. Mark has a BA and MA in Sociology of Environment, a HDip in Science & Technology Studies. He is a guest instructor with The Immersion at Wilderness Awareness School where he teaches about the art of seeing, drawing, and perspective in relation to wildlife tracking. Mark has been a team leader on the Cascades Wildlife Monitoring Project. Mark also holds an MFA and works as a professional artist and runs the Atelier Program at the Gage Academy of Art. View his work at kangohiggins.com.
Adam first took Tracking Intensive in 2008. Adam has been a core instructor and has been the tracking club coordinator since 2017. Adam has also been on the leadership team for the Cascade Wildlife Monitoring project since 2009. He has a long background in nature education and has worked professionally in conservation science and ecological restoration since 2011. Adam has a BA/BS in natural history, environmental education, and ecology from The Evergreen State College. Currently, he is in his candidacy in the Master of Environmental Studies program at The Evergreen State College where he is focusing on topics in conservation biology.
There are many people who contribute to the teaching of this robust learning experience including Teaching Assistants (TA’s) and Guest Instructors. Your core instructor and TA’s are there every weekend and will help mentor you from the beginning of the class to the end. Guest Instructors and Presenters come in with a specific area of expertise to enhance the class learning. These expert trackers have included Mark Elbroch, Sue Morse, Jim Halfpenny, and many others.
Regular Guest Instructors
Marcus is the Program Manager for The Immersion and has been with Wilderness Awareness School since 2006. He is a Track and Sign Evaluator for CyberTracker International. Marcus is a member of the Mountain Caribou Initiative – a coalition designed to assess and confront conservation issues facing caribou in North America. He is a naturalist, advocate, filmmaker, and photographer engaged in telling stories that bring to light and life, the complexity of humans living in the 21st century. Marcus is a regular guest instructor for the Tracking Intensive.
David is an internationally recognized wildlife tracker, author, biologist, and photographer. David is the author of Wildlife of the Pacific Northwest and Wolves in the Land of Salmon. He is one of a handful of North American Senior Trackers – as certified by CyberTracker International. He runs tracking evaluations throughout North America and internationally. He has taught the Tracking Intensive for over 10 years. You can find more information about David at davidmoskowitz.net. David is a regular guest instructor for the Tracking Intensive.