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Learn the science and art of wildlife tracking at a two-day course Sept. 21-22.

Have you ever stepped over an animal track, noticed a pile of scat or scratches on a tree and wondered, who made it? Learn about the fundamentals of wildlife tracking by joining Wenatchee River Institute (WRI) and professional wildlife tracker and educator Marcus Reynerson of Duvall’s Wilderness Awareness School for a weekend course Sept. 21-22.

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Marcus Reynerson, Professional wildlife tracker and educator with Wilderness Awareness School, Duvall, Washington

Through a combination of class and field time, course participants will become grounded in the context of wildlife tracking — how it is relevant to a variety of people from wildlife scientists to conservationists, as well as to those who simply want to be more connected to the natural world.

Wildlife tracking offers a holistic, ecological window into the activities of the living world surrounding us. By becoming aware of the wildlife living in our backyards, the world becomes a richer place as new sights and sounds are recognized and enjoyed.

Tracking with Reynerson is an amazing experience because it is more than walking around and looking for tracks on the ground, said Rachel Bishop, WRI’s community education lead, who has worked with him during a field course, tracking a cougar up the Icicle Canyon.

“Marcus knows how to look at a forest with the awareness of a tracker, knowing exactly where the animals have gone and the certain behaviors one might see,” she said. “Watching him work will inspire anyone to become a wildlife tracker, to learn about the natural world in a unique way.”

“We wandered through the trees following signs such as tracks and scrapes, and what the cougar seemed to be following, a snowshoe hare. There is more activity in our backyards than we realize!” Bishop said.

In this course, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, and Sunday, Sept. 22, you will gain the skill set to explore the vast and exciting world of wildlife tracking:

  • Natural history, taxonomy and regional wildlife
  • Basic wildlife foot morphology
  • Clear print identification
  • Behavior and wildlife sign interpretation
  • Track aging
  • How wildlife interacts with varying landscapes
  • The fundamentals of following animal trails
  • The art of inquiry and engaging curiosity

Every tracking experience is unique and so the course will follow the curiosity of the participants, as well as the animal tracks and trails encountered along the way. Whether you are an experienced tracker or a beginner, course participants will learn to look at the ground in a new way, with the tools to develop as connected naturalists, reading stories left behind by the wildlife all around us.

Reynerson is a naturalist, educator and photographer. He has worked in wilderness education, outdoor leadership, and conservation for numerous organizations and communities across North America and Europe.

He is the lead instructor for an internationally renowned environmental leadership immersion program for adults at the Wilderness Awareness School, and an evaluator with Cybertracker Conservation, an organization dedicated to providing leading edge assessment and certification across the globe in the art and science of wildlife tracking.

Tricia Cook is the administration and communications manager for the Wenatchee River Institute in Leavenworth.