FOR185 Intro to Wildlife Tracking 2008
Title : Credits:
Intro to Wildlife Tracking 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‘s 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 – the disturbances to the natural baseline, the source of the disturbances, and the creature‘s interaction with the earth. 2. Synthesize the students‘ 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—as 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‘s 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‘s 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 the student‘s level of tracking success (which takes time to develop), but instead on their ability to progress based upon what they have learned.
-2Attendance Expectations: Attendance is expected at all 5 classes. Opportunities to makeup a missed class may be afforded, but are dependent upon instructor‘s 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) FROM B&N Mark Elbroch, Olaus J. Murie, Olaus J. Murie (Illustrator), Mark Elbroch (Illustrator) Format: Pub. Date: November 2005 Paperback Online Price: Members Pay: $19.95 $17.95 Join Now
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Tracking and the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Tracks and Sign Paul Rezendes Format: 2nd Pub. Date: March 1999 Paperback Edition
FROM B&N Online Price: Members Pay: $25.00 $22.50 Join Now
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Electronic Submissions/Internet Use: No electronic submissions or internet use is required.
Grading: The overall class grade is a summation of the following: 33% Attendance and participation 33% Independent project (self assessment) 34% Final Reflection Paper
-3Format 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 Vision & Observation Awareness & Inquiry No attempt to read landscape or see the natural baseline No recording of observations D Unable to see disturbances within the natural baseline of earth Observations made but no evidence of further inquiry Partial ID of track family characteristics C Able to see track disturbances to the baseline Observations made and evidence of further inquiry Positive ID of track family B Able to see track compression within the disturbances Observations sufficient to promote further inquiry and hypothesis Partial ID of track species A Able to see track proper within the track compressions Observations lead to discovery of new knowledge Positive ID of track species
Identification of Tracks
No partial ID of track or track characteristics
Percentage Contribution of Each Assignment: See ―Grading‖ above. No other graded assignments. Instructional Sequence: 1st Class – “The Eye of the Tracker” 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 and tracks‘ disturbances to it Allowing your [drawing] hand to be guided by your vision 2nd Class – “The Mind of the Tracker” 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 3 Class – “The Attitude of the Tracker” Introduction o What happens when our skills fail us… ―the wall‖ o The power of choice
-4The interplay of the eye‘s vision and the mind‘s thoughts o The zero-dirt tracking box and how the track is formed by the earth o Discovering the track within each track compression Allowing your attitude to be guided by your vision 4 Class – “The Heart of the Tracker” Introduction o Forward tracking vs. back tracking o The disposition of the tracker in relation to the creatures being tracked The interplay of tracking apart from, and tracking as a part of, the web of life o The impact of one‘s intent when tracking o The relationship of tracks to trails, and trails to the whole o Reading groups of tracks as one ‗track‘ or ‗word‘ Allowing your heart to be guided by your vision 5th Class – “The Awareness of the Tracker” Introduction o Moving beyond the track and trail to the rhythms of the forest o Track distortion as the tracker‘s reality and manifestation of life itself The interplay of tracking and awareness – where the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts o Combining all that is present into a natural ‗baseline‘ o Combining all the types of disturbances into a ‗deviation in the baseline‘ o Combining tracks into a trail o Combining trails into a web o Combining the 4 elements into an ‗aging‘ o Combining the 5 senses into a ‗whole‘ o Combining the ―eye‖, ―mind‖, ―attitude‖, ―heart‖ and ―awareness‖ of the tracker into the essence of the master tracker where ―All the wisdom is in the last track.‖ Allowing your tracking to be guided by your awareness and vice versa. Directions to the UVM Forest at Jericho are: 1)From UVM take I-89 south to the Richmond exit (the next exit after the Tafts Corners exit in Williston) 2)Go left at stop sign at end of exit ramp and head west briefly on Route 2 (you'll go back under 89 and come to a light) 3)Bear right at light onto River Road (VT 117) 4)Take an immediate right at the BlueFlame Gas Co. onto Governor Peck Road and go about 1.5 miles 5)Turn left onto Tarbox Road (sort of a hairpin left turn) 6)Go about 1.5 miles and turn left at the Jericho Research Forest sign and drive a few hundred yards to end of road.