Wildlife Tracks and Sign

Course Description

The ability to identify animal sign is fundamental to good science and safe field work, and the goal of this course is to increase your recognition of the visual clues left behind by the myriad of creatures that inhabit a given ecosystem. It is intended for those who wish to improve the skills that can aid them in gaining a deeper understanding of animal behavior, since knowing the whereabouts and movement patterns of animals is critical to ascertaining preferred habitats, what and where they eat, resting and sleeping locations, and other activities.

Students will study a variety of animal sign from mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians including tracks, trails, gaits, scat, feeding sign, and other spoor (shelter, bedding areas, etc.). This information is invaluable in order to conduct animal surveys, know where to place trail cameras, collect samples for DNA testing, identify predation and poaching events, and gather other scientific data.


Course Objectives

The goals for this course will be to understand, analyze, identify and interpret the following:

  • Tracking ecology
  • Track morphology
  • Track characteristics for mammals, birds, reptiles, & amphibians
  • Ageing tracks
  • Animal gaits
  • Animal trails
  • Scat/pellets
  • Feeding sign
  • Other animal sign (dens, burrows, beds, lays)

Course Topics

Module Topic
Module 1 Introduction to Animal Sign
Module 2 Tracking Morphology and Ecology
Module 3 Animal Gaits
Module 4 Canine Tracks
Module 5 Feline Tracks
Module 6 Ungulate Tracks
Module 7 Bears, Skunks, & Procyonidae Tracks
Module 8 Medium Sized Mammals
Module 9 Rodent Tracks
Module 10 Bird Tracks
Module 11 Reptile and Amphibian Tracks
Module 12 Scat and Pellets
Module 13 Other Sign
Module 14 Aging Tracks and Sign
Module 15 Trailing