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FOR185 Intro to Wildlife Tracking2008
Course Syllabus
Title : Intro to Wildlife Tracking

Credits:1
Instructor: Michael Kessler
Meeting dates and times:

Varies per semester
Location: UVM Jericho Research Forest, Jericho, Vermont (green building classroom and outside)
Course Description:

This is an outdoor course oriented to the student\u2018s immediate application of classroom knowledge in a wilderness setting. It is designed to launch the student upon a lifelong journey of reading the stories that are written in the earth with each passing day. Successive aspects of track and soil mechanics are introduced and then reinforced and complimented by field experience in the UVM Jericho Research Forest. Students will receive tools to enhance their awareness of the presence of wildlife through their tracks and to classify and identify them by species.

Goals:
1. Open the huge novel that is left every time a foot hits the ground\u2013 the disturbances to the natural
baseline, the source of the disturbances, and the creature\u2018s interaction with the earth.
2. Synthesize the students\u2018 collection of skills that have been learned in the natural sciences, life sciences,
and humanities at the University of Vermont through their application to tracking.
3. Kindle a more intimate relationship with the earth and deeper connection to the global community.
Learning Outcomes:
1. To see and read the landscape as a continuum of dynamic and static forces\u2014as a new page in a

manuscript that is written upon each day.
2. To understand how tracks originate in the earth.
3.To expand one\u2018s awareness of the presence of wildlife through their tracks.
4. To identify tracks by species in different soil types.

General Course Information
Course Policies:

There are no specific prerequisites for this course and it does not assume that you have any background,
experience, or education in tracking. Anyone can become a tracker. This course is a general introduction
to the study of tracks and level of instruction will be varied to each person\u2018s level of skill. Both the
beginner and the expert tracker will be fully engaged simply by varying the difficulty of soil type upon
which one is instructed, for example soft mud as opposed to ice, pine needles or rock. Assessment of
individual competency is not based upon thest udent \u2018s level of tracking success (which takes time to
develop), but instead on their ability to progress based upon what they have learned.

-2-
Attendance Expectations:
Attendance is expected at all 5 classes. Opportunities to makeup a missed class may be afforded, but are
dependent upon instructor\u2018s availability.
Religious observances will be respected with opportunities to make up a missed class. Notification to the
instructor is required at the first class.
Contributions in Class:

Everyone is expected to participate in both the classroom and the field exercises and to provide for their
individual comfort and care as weather dictates. As important, everyone is expected to be a respectful and
engaged listener to their colleagues and instructor.

Academic Honesty & Professionalism:
Everyone is expected to understand and follow all University of Vermont policies and regulations.
Required and/or recommended readings:
Recommended reading (will be available in UVM Bookstore):
Peterson Field Guide to Animal Tracks (Peterson Field Guides Series)
Mark Elbroch, Olaus J. Murie, Olaus J. Murie (Illustrator), Mark Elbroch
(Illustrator)
Format:
Paperback
Pub. Date: November 2005
FROM B&N
Online Price:
$19.95
Members Pay:
$17.95 Join Now
Usually ships within 2-3 days
Used
Copies
Available
from our Authorized Sellers
Tracking and the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Tracks and
Sign
Paul Rezendes
Format:
Paperback
2nd
Edition
Pub. Date: March 1999
FROM B&N
Online Price:
$25.00
Members Pay:
$22.50 Join Now
Usually ships within 24 hours
Used
Copies
Available
from our Authorized Sellers
Electronic Submissions/Internet Use:
No electronic submissions or internet use is required.
Student Evaluation/Assessment
Grading:

The overall class grade is a summation of the following:
33% Attendance and participation
33% Independent project (self assessment)
34% Final Reflection Paper

-3-
Format for Expected Work:
Materials provided by instructor (via lab fee assessed with registration).
Scoring Rubrics:
The following rubric is used to score these components of the students overall grade:
Class participation
Independent project
Final Reflection Paper
Grade
F
D
C
B
A
Vision
&
Observation

No attempt to
read landscape
or see the

natural baseline
Unable to see
disturbances
within the natural
baseline of earth

Able to see track
disturbances to
the baseline

Able to see track
compression
within the
disturbances

Able to see track proper within the track

compressions
Awareness
&
Inquiry
No recording of
observations
Observations
made but no
evidence of
further inquiry
Observations
made and
evidence of
further inquiry
Observations
sufficient to
promote further
inquiry and
hypothesis
Observations
lead to discovery
of new
knowledge
Identification
of Tracks
No partial ID of
track or track
characteristics
Partial ID of
trackfamily
characteristics
Positive ID of
trackfamily
Partial ID of
trackspecies
Positive ID of
trackspecies
Percentage Contribution of Each Assignment:
See \u2015Grading\u2016 above. No other graded assignments.
Instructional Sequence:
1st Class \u2013 \u201cThe Eye of the Tracker\u201d
Introduction

o Clearing away what is between the tracker and the earth o The abundance of partial tracks and trails that do not end o The Wisdom of the Marks

The interplay of peripheral vision and tunnel vision for reading the landscape
o Landscape tracking, the widest view
o Discovering the natural baseline andtracks\u2018 disturbances to it
Allowing your [drawing] hand to be guided by your vision
2nd Class \u2013 \u201cThe Mind of the Tracker\u201d
Introduction
o The active mind and the still mind
o The power of formulating questions
The interplay of the active mind and the still mind for reading the landscape
o Synthesizing our vision and our mind
o Discovering track compressions within the disturbances
Allowing your mind to be guided by your vision
3rd Class \u2013 \u201cThe Attitude of the Tracker\u201d
Introduction
o What happens when our skills fail us\u2026 \u2015the wall\u2016
o The power of choice

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