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Wildlife Track and Sign Certification Workshop


Tracking instructor Casey McFarland teaching tracking during a Cybertracker evaluation in Jackson Hole.

 

Join tracking evaluator Casey McFarland for an in depth two day track and sign certification workshop in Grand Teton National Park. The Track and Sign Certification is a two-day practical field test that emphasizes open, honest dialogue and real learning. The tracks and sign of any and all species encountered in the field may be asked, whether big or small, clear or obscure.
Bear in mind that though the workshop is in test-form, the goal of the course is to learn how to interpret animal tracks and sign, with the certification component applied as a way to help trackers develop skill and measure their progress overtime. Learning track and sign is an ongoing journey where there is always more to learn! Whether a biologist, naturalist, wilderness guide, wildlife photographer, or outdoor educator this is a dynamic, entertaining, and un-paralleled tracking training.
 
The Tracker Certifications emphasize practical tracking and the development of reliable field skills, and are unassociated with any particular philosophy or tracking school. No prior training is required to participate but preparation for the course or prior tracking experience will be helpful for the evaluation portion of the program. Unlike most classes where you are taught and then tested, the Cybertracker training program is designed to see where you are on the learning continuum first and then have a lesson after each question is individually answered. After participants give their answers, a dialogue ensues between the evaluator and participants to provide the opportunity for everyone involved to learn and for each of us to internalize the field marks used for identification.
 
If you are interested in being able to better understand ecology, wild animals and the evidence they leave behind this is the course for you. See below for more information on the history of Cybertracker and the scoring criteria for the workshop.

Included: Two days of tracking instruction, transportation from Jackson, lunch each day, a souvenir water bottle and a Cybertracker Evaluation (and certification depending on your score).

Duration: 2 Days

Availability: Sept 30-Oct 1, Oct 2-3, 2017 (Group size limited to 10 guests per workshop)

 

Cost: 275.00 per person

 

Day 1-2 – Meet each day at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris office at 730am (or arrange a hotel pick-up in Jackson at no extra charge). On the way out of town we will stop at a local deli to grab a field lunch before heading into Grand Teton to our field learning site. This will depend on where the most interesting tracks and sign for us to study and interpret are found. We will be in the field all day so it’s important to come prepared to be out in the elements and ready to start interpreting tracks and sign from the beginning.

Cancellation Policy: We have a 48 hour cancellation policy for all single day safaris and a 7 day cancellation policy for all 2­-3 day safaris. For groups of 15 or more guests and for multi­-day safaris of 4 or more days our cancellation policy is 30 days. Cancellations made outside the stated cancellation period for your reservation will be fully refunded with no penalty. For cancellations made within our cancellation policy’s stated times for your reservation we will retain a 50% deposit. Cancellations on the day of your reservation or no­-shows will be charged 100%. We strongly recommend travel insurance to protect you from incurring costs associated with unforeseen cancellations. .

 

Casey McFarland explaining how to interpret the past behavior of an animal using the signs left behind on the landscape.

Instructor Bio: Casey McFarland is the co-author of Bird Feathers: A Guide to North American Species (Stackpole 2010). He currently contributes to various wildlife projects, including wildlife connectivity and carnivore studies, and has worked extensively in mountain lion research. He trains and certifies biologists, research teams and the general public across the US and Europe through the CyberTracker Conservation evaluation system, an international standard for gauging and enhancing one’s in-field knowledge of track, sign and behavior of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. Casey also has been involved in general environmental education for over a decade, instructing and presenting on various topics in venues ranging from Audubon Chapters and state agencies to the Sierra Club.

The following descriptions for how the evaluation works is from www.trackercertification.com where you can find more details, course dates and background into the Cybertracker program in North America.

Basic Requirements and skill sets for certification:

Track & Sign I: The candidate must be able to interpret the spoor of medium to large animals and must have a fair knowledge of animal behavior. To qualify for the Track & Sign I certificate the candidate must obtain 69% on the Track & Sign Interpretation.

Track & Sign II Certificate: The candidate must be able to interpret the spoor of small to large animals, interpret less distinct spoor, and must have a good knowledge of animal behavior. To qualify for the Track & Sign II certificate the candidate must obtain 80% on the Track & Sign Interpretation evaluation.

Track & Sign III and Track & Sign IV Certificates: The candidate must be able to interpret the spoor of any animal, interpret obscure spoor and must have a very good knowledge of animal behavior. To qualify for the Track & Sign III certificate the candidate must obtain 90% on the Track & Sign Interpretation evaluation, and for Level IV, 100%.

Track & Sign Specialist Certification: The candidate must be able to interpret the spoor of any animal, interpret very obscure spoor and must have an excellent knowledge of animal behavior. To qualify for the Track & Sign Specialist certificate the candidate must obtain 100% on a Track & Sign Interpretation Specialist evaluation.*

*Track & Sign Specialist Evaluation: The process during the Track & Sign Specialist evaluation is identical to the above-described evaluation, excepting the following variation: At least 50 very difficult spoor will be asked, with not more than 10 difficult spoor. No easy spoor will be asked. In addition to this, 7 “extremely” difficult spoor will be asked; No penalty is awarded for an incorrect answer on an extremely difficult question, but three correctly answered extremely difficult spoor cancel the mistake of one incorrect answer; thus, participants can rectify up to two mistakes during an evaluation and still earn their Specialist Certificates.

Scoring

Unlike traditional grading, Track and Sign Evaluations use a weighted scoring system that reflects the difficulty rating of the track or sign (spoor). The candidate is awarded one point for the correct interpretation of easy spoor, or three marks against for a mistake. Two points are awarded for the correct interpretation of difficult spoor, or two marks against for a mistake. Three points are awarded for the correct interpretation of very difficult spoor, or one point against for a mistake. The participant’s final score is a percentage calculated by dividing the total number of correct points by the sum of the correct and incorrect points.

Easy Spoor is spoor of medium-sized to large-sized species that are clearly defined and therefore unmistakable (For instance, a clean moose track in mud). Difficult Spoor includes spoor of smaller species, and spoor that are indistinct due to challenging substrate. Very Difficult Spoor includes the tracks of small or rare species, fractions of larger footprints, and very indistinct spoor that requires considerable experience to identify.

The following levels can be achieved via the outcome of assessment. Track & Sign levels I, II, III, IV and Track & Sign Specialist; and Trailing levels I, II, III, IV and Trailing Specialist. Tracker levels I, II, III, IV and Senior Tracker.
Tracker certificates are awarded to participants who undergo both types of evaluation, and corresponds to the lowest level scored on either evaluation.

Scores and corresponding levels:

Level 1 69-79%

Level 2 80-89%

Level 3 90-99%

Level 4 100%, (achieved without an external evaluator present;)

Specialist, 100% (achieved with two evaluators, one of whom is an external evaluator)

Senior Tracker 100% on both Track and Sign and Trailing

The following is a brief history of Cybertracker