Wildlife Tracking Apprenticeship

Discover the Stories in Animal Tracks and Signs!


Wildlife Tracking Apprenticeship
Course Details:

Dates: Ten weekends, Feb - Nov
Begins: Feb 8, 2020 
Ends: Nov 15, 2020 
Locations: Campus & field trips
Instructor: Chris Byrd
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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 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 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 (ten weekends)

Feb 8-9, 2020: Clear Print Identification (local sites)
- Learn what to look for to identify animal tracks and sign.

Mar 14-15, 2020: Snow Tracking & Gait Analysis (Snoqualmie Pass)
- Interpret how animals behave and move across the landscape.

Apr 18-19, 2020: Tracks & Sign of Desert Species (Vantage area)
- Learn about the creatures that live in dry habitats of central WA. 

May 16-17, 2020: Trailing & Ecological Sign Tracking (Three Forks)
- Predict where to find animals using ecological features & animal behavior.

Jun 13-14, 2020: Coastal Tracking (Long Beach Dune Systems)
- Learn to track the animals of the coastal dunes systems of WA State.

Jul 11-12, 2020: Tracking High Elevation Species (Hurricane Ridge)
- Discover tracks & sign found in the subalpine zones of the Olympic Mtns.

Aug 8-9, 2020: Trailing in the Cascades Alpine Zone (Hart's Pass)
- Practice tracking skills in area inhabited by mountain goats & wolverines.

Sep 12-13, 2020: Small Wildlife Tracks & Sign (Potholes Dunes)
- Explore the tracks of reptiles, amphibians, insects, and small mammals.

Oct 10-11, 2020: Tracking Charismatic Megafauna (Methow Valley)
- Track at sites frequented by wolves, moose, cougars, and black bears.

Nov 14-15, 2020: CyberTracker Track & Sign Evaluation (Central WA)
- Become certified through the international CyberTracker Evaluation.

The Wildlife Tracking Apprenticeship meets for a full weekend each month. 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 course concludes with a CyberTracker Track & Sign Evaluation where you'll have the opportunity to earn a Track & Sign Certificate (most participants do very well!).

The Tracking Apprenticeship At a Glance:

Duration: Ten weekends that take place from February through November
Begins: February 8, 2020
Ends: November 15, 2020

Locations: The Alderleaf campus and various field sites in Washington State, with carpooling options from Monroe, WA.

Instructor: Chris Byrd has been a naturalist in the Pacific Coast states for nearly two decades. Chris holds a Track & Sign Specialist Certification and has been trailing animals in the Pacific Northwest intensively for the last ten 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.


Course fee:
 $2500 ($100 registration deposit required to reserve a spot, remaining balance due January 15th, 2020).

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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