Wildlife Tracking & Trailing Apprenticeship
Discover the Stories in Animal Tracks and Signs!

Wildlife Tracking & Trailing Apprenticeship
Course Details:
Dates: Eight weekends, May - Dec
Begins: May 18th, 2024 
Ends: Dec 8th, 2024 
Locations: Field sites in WA State
Instructor: Chris Byrd

See the natural world through new eyes as you become a wildlife tracker!

There is a story within every animal track that unfolds as you learn the ancient science and art of wildlife tracking. Learn who made the tracks, how fast the animal was moving, where they sleep, what they eat, where the animal went, and so much more.

Our ancestors once relied on tracking for survival & hunting, as well as inspiration for art and storytelling. Today, tracking also serves many other roles including as a tool for environmental studies, conservation projects, land use planning, and supports hobbies such as wildlife photography. Many people love tracking just for the sheer joy of being out in the natural world.

In the Wildlife Tracking & Trailing Apprenticeship you discover stories of your own while growing as a tracker and naturalist. You learn basic through advanced tracking skills and gain an understanding of animal behaviors and their environments. You develop practical tracking and trailing skills that can be applied in a variety of ways.

The course is catered to both folks new to tracking and experienced trackers!

Course Overview (eight weekends):

May 17-18, 2024: Track Identification and Trailing (Baker Lake)
- Learn identify animal tracks and sign, and gain the fundamentals of trailing.

Jun 29-30, 2024: Coastal Tracking (Dosewallips State Park)
- Learn to track the animals that inhabit coastal areas.

Jul 13-14, 2024: Tracking High Elevation Species (Washington Pass)
- Discover tracks & sign found in the subalpine zones of the North Cascades.

Aug 17-18, 2024: Trailing in the Selkirk Mountains (Little Pend Oreille NWR)
- Practice tracking skills in area inhabited by Rocky Mtn species such as moose.

Sep 7-8, 2024: Small Wildlife Tracks & Sign (Potholes Dunes)
- Explore the tracks of reptiles, amphibians, insects, and small mammals.

Oct 5-6, 2024: Tracking Charismatic Megafauna (Methow Valley)
- Track at sites frequented by wolves, cougars, and black bears.

Nov 16-17, 2024: Trailing & Ecological Sign Tracking (Three Forks)
- Predict where to find animals using ecological features & animal behavior.

Dec 14-15, 2020: Snow Tracking & Gait Analysis (Snoqualmie Pass)
- Interpret how animals behave and move across winter landscapes.

The Wildlife Tracking & Trailing Apprenticeship meets for a full weekend each month to practice track & sign identification and trailing skills in each location. The course is a mix of instruction and guided practice while visiting many of the best tracking areas in Washington State. These field trips include visits to the North Cascades mountains, Washington coast, the sagebrush deserts of central Washington, and other sites.

The Tracking Apprenticeship At a Glance:

Duration: Eight weekends that take place from May through December
Times: Each weekend runs 10am-4pm on Saturday & 9am-3pm on Sunday
Begins: May 18th, 2024
Ends: December 8th, 2024

Locations: Various field sites throughout Washington State.

Instructor: Chris Byrd has been a naturalist in the Pacific Coast states for over two decades. Chris holds a Track & Sign Specialist Certification and has been trailing animals in the Pacific Northwest intensively for the last fifteen years. Chris has taught tracking and ecology for a number of local organizations including the North Cascades Institute, Wild Whatcom, The Cascade Land Conservancy, and Western Washington University.  He has a post-graduate degree in education from Humboldt State University and a Master's Degree in Environmental Studies & Conservation Biology.

Course fee:

Register for the Wildlife Tracking Apprenticeship

"Being a part of Alderleaf's Wildlife Tracking Apprenticeship was a great experience. The course provided a terrific opportunity to get out in the field all around the Northwest with amazing instructors and wonderful students all of whom care about and take in all the incredible environments we visited. We were gifted with so many unique experiences on our trips, the wildlife and the land itself giving us unforgettable shared moments and providing us with learning and teaching moments. If I could take this course each and every year, I would. Each trip is so one of a kind and the tracks and sign we find are always unique to that moment in time that the course would always be new and fresh." -Kristian Boose, Tracking Apprenticeship graduate

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