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Gain experience and instruction in identifying and interpreting wildlife track and sign while participating in an exploratory wildlife survey of a local woodlot with Certified Wildlife Tracker Sophie Mazowita, CHC’s Community Science Coordinator.
Our goal is to train local wildlife trackers to join CHC’s community wildlife monitoring network. These projects include:
Reporting of track and sign (and sightings) of “indicator species” including bobcat, lynx, fisher, marten, mink, river otter, and moose—with a focus on road crossings and suspected wildlife corridors
Team track and sign surveys to monitor specific locations for wildlife habitat use and connectivity
Deployment (and biannual visits) to wildlife cameras stationed across our region to contribute to a 5-state wildlife monitoring initiative (NY, VT, NH, ME and MA), in collaboration with Vermont Fish & Wildlife
Some of these projects involve ongoing, incidental reporting of wildlife observations through the iNaturalist website/app; others involve team wildlife surveys up to 3-4 times per year.
These field training sessions are also offered to broaden your awareness of the diversity of wildlife activity that can be observed on the landscape and allow you to “read” and connect with the stories of your wild neighbors, a practice that goes far beyond targeted wildlife surveys, facilitating a deeper relationship with wildlife and building understanding of local ecology.
About the February-March Field Trainings
Small-group excursions (max. group size 10) from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on each of the following dates:
Saturday, February 11 in Enosburgh
Wednesday, February 22 in Montgomery - FULL
Monday, March 6 in Montgomery or Waterville (location TBD based on snow conditions)
Saturday, March 11 in Fletcher
Specific site locations will be shared with registrants.
Trackers of all experience levels welcome. We ask that beginning trackers please watch the 90-minute CHC wildlife tracking introductory workshop recording prior to attending (this was presented live on February 1 via Zoom and is now available at this link).
What to expect on our field day:
We will spend the full 4 hours outdoors (likely on snowshoes), walking across varied terrain and looking for wildlife track and sign. We will focus on interpreting and identifying any wildlife sign we discover, documenting wildlife tracks, and following any carnivore trails we find (if any) to interpret behavior. We will touch on track ID, gait interpretation, documentation of tracks, and identifying significant habitat features of the landscape.
Field days may be cancelled or rescheduled in case of extreme cold and/or active snowfall conditions that could either make travel unsafe or obscure all recent tracks.
What to bring:
Day pack to carry gear and food and beverages for the outing
Depending on weather we may snack on the go rather than stopping for a field lunch.
A thermos with warm beverage is strongly recommended!
Lots of warm layers and warm, waterproof boots.
Anticipate spending a lot of time in place to closely examine wildlife tracks (think extra layers!), broken up by periods of movement.
Snowshoes (available for loan at many local libraries, and CHC staff may also have a pair or two available).
Daypack to carry the above gear.
Smartphone (or camera) to photograph tracks
iNaturalist app (downloaded on your phone) to practice recording a data point
Gaia GPS app (or another GPS app, downloaded on your phone) to practice recording a trail
Ruler/measuring device (e.g., a 6-inch ruler)
$40 per person for the 4-hour field session.
How to sign up:
Please fill out this form to indicate your interest and all dates you could be available for. We will try to match you to one of your preferred dates and then send you a registration link to confirm. Participants may have the opportunity to sign up for more than one date depending on the number of responses.
Trainings are open to residents of CHC towns (Fletcher, Bakersfield, Waterville, Belvidere, Enosburgh, Montgomery and Richford) as well as anyone within driving distance interested in participating in our wildlife monitoring network. Current/past CHC Keeping Track volunteers are also welcome and encouraged to take part.