WILDLIFE TRACKING: Class will reveal hidden lives at Mount St. Helens

Staff reportJune 9, 2013 

Participants in a two-day course this month will have the chance to learn how to look for animals tracks and signs at Mount St. Helens.

The Mount St. Helens Institute is partnering with professional wildlife tracker, photographer and outdoor educator David Moskowitz to put on the class June 22–23.

The field-based course will engage participants in the process of identification and interpretation of tracks and signs and will teach participants how to use them to help to reveal the hidden lives of Washington Cascades wildlife.

Class participants will learn to identify and interpret wildlife tracks, scats and other signs left behind to re-create chase scenes, life-and-death interactions and great escapes left behind by animals during their daily lives, according to an institute press release.

Identification and interpretation of wildlife tracks and signs is a basic component of wildlife research for centuries. Animal tracking can also add a new dimension to hiking, camping and other outdoor activities by enabling participants to look at the natural world in new ways and provides a window into the hidden lives of animals, according to the release.

At the conclusion of the course, those who qualify will receive track and sign certification through Cybertracker Conservation, the international standard for tracking certification.

Moskowitz, author of “Wildlife of the Pacific Northwest: Tracking and Identifying Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians and Invertebrates” and “Wolves in the Land of Salmon,” has worked on projects studying rare forest carnivores, wolves, elk, Caspian terns and desert plant ecology. He is also a certified track and sign specialist through Cybertracker Conservation and helped establish the Cascade Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project, a citizen science effort to search for and monitor rare and sensitive wildlife in the Cascades and other Northwest wildlands. To lern more about him, go to davidmoskowitz.net.

The cost of the class is $300 and includes four meals and lodging accommodations for one night at Pine Creek, about 40 miles east of Woodland. Space is limited to 10 participants. The course is open to all ages, but youth under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Student discounts are available. Visit mshinstitute.org to register or to attend one of the other field seminars or climbs offered by the institute this season.

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