Wildlife Tracking Intensive

For Adults

Various Locations in Pacific NW

$1875 – $2695

September – May
9/18/21 – 9/19/21
10/9/21 – 10/11/21
11/6/21 – 11/7/21
12/11/21 – 12/12/21
1/22/22 – 1/23/22
2/19/22 – 2/20/22
3/19/22 – 3/20/22
4/23/22 – 4/25/22
5/18/22 – 5/22/22

Registration Information

“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 – T.I. Grad 2016
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This program is full for the 2021-2022 year. To be added to our waitlist, please email wasnet@wildernessawareness.org.

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 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.

What’s Covered?

  • 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
animal sign on tree

Learning Outcomes

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 snow 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, this wildlife tracking course is packed with adventure, challenge, and high-quality instruction. 

Core Instructors

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 come in with a specific area of expertise to enhance the class learning.

Mark Kang O’Higgins has been a part of the Tracking Intensive since 2008. Over the last 10 years, he has been a teaching assistant, assistant instructor, and is now the Coordinator of the program. Mark is a Track and Sign Specialist as certified by CyberTracker International. Mark has a BA and MA in Sociology of Environment, a HDip in Science & Technology Studies and is a guest instructor with the The Immersion at Wilderness Awareness School where he teaches about the art of seeing, drawing, and perspective in relation to wildlife tracking. Mark is 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 Martin first took Tracking Intensive in 2008. Since 2012, he has been a teaching assistant, assistant instructor, and is now one of the core instructors of the program, 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. Adam 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.

Marcus Reynerson is the The Immersion Outdoor School Program Manager. He is a Track and Sign Specialist as certified by 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. Marcus will be teaching at least 3 weekends during the year – October, December, and May.

David Moskowitz 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 will be teaching at least 2 weekends during the year – November and April.

Guest Instructors

There will also be Guest Instructors and Presenters to complement the teaching team. These high-level folks have included Mark Elbroch, Sue Morse, Jim Halfpenny, and many others. We will be adding other Guest Instructors this year!

Included in the Primary/Advanced Path of the Tracking Intensive is a Cybertracker Evaluation where you put your skills to the test! You will participate in a 2-day Track and Sign evaluation where you have the opportunity to get certified as a tracker! You will have a choice of which 2-day Tracking Evaluation you attend Wednesday/Thursday or Friday/Saturday. The May weekend will be led by Cybertracker Senior Tracker Casey McFarland.

Three Course Paths

We’ve designed this class around three options – primary, advanced and audit paths. Read on to learn which option is best for you, and to learn about evaluations and college credit.

1. Primary Path

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 and is designed for students with little or no previous tracking experience. Requires 25 HOURS of field time outside of class – see Field Journaling and Independent Study below. Students also have the option of attending 9 additional field days at our monthly Tracking Club.

What’s Covered in 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.

2. Advanced Path

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 25 HOURS of field time and additional field assignments outside of class – see Field Journaling and Independent Study below. Students also have the option of attending 9 additional field days at our monthly Tracking Club.

3. Audit Path

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.

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 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 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.

Field Evaluation

At the conclusion of the program, Primary/Advanced path students will have their tracking skill level evaluated in a rigorous field test through 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 their 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 of $250, space permitting.

Payment Options

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 wasnet@wildernessawareness.org for payment plan details.

College Credit

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

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.

Wilderness Awareness School