Tracker Training


Most tracking classes are led by James Bruchac (co-author of Scats & Tracks of The NortheastScats & Tracks of The Southeast) or Ndakinna Head Instructor, Ivan Erchak (co-author with James Bruchac of the forthcoming Snow Tracks Of The Adirondacks). Guest trackers include Dr. James Halfpenny, senior author of Scats & Tracks series and A Field Guide to Mammal Tracking. Certification is available for most courses – please ask in advance.

 Basic Animal Tracks Lecture.  Through the use of a power point presentation and Ndakinna’s large collection of plaster track casts students will learn to identify common and not so common North American mammals from rabbits and foxes to mountain lions and grizzly bears.

 Basic Tracks & Tracking Fieldtrip.  Although this class is most popular in the winter it runs throughout the year. Class consists of instruction, basic footprint identification, and a fieldtrip to the Nature Preserve to look for tracks.

 Basic Mammal Tracks and Plaster Casting.  Participants will learn how to both identify and collect the tracks of numerous forest mammals. Consists of a two hour hands-on workshop focusing on track identification and track casting followed by a two hour field study. Participants will go into the Ndakinna preserve with the skills needed to make plaster casts of any tracks they may find.

 Tracks & Scats with Jim Bruchac.  Drawing on Jim Bruchac’s popular field guides co-authored with Dr. Halfpenny (Scats & Tracks Of The Northeast and Scats & Tracks of The Southeast), this class consists of basic to advanced footprint and scat (animal droppings) identification, field measurements, plaster casting of tracks and a two hour tracking field trip.

 Winter Animal Tracking Intensive.  This class was originally designed by Jim Bruchac as a quick overview for New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) species surveys. It consists of basic-advanced footprint identification, basic-advanced animal gaits, basic scatology, tracking data collection & CyberTracker database as well as a two hour tracking field study and intro to snow casting.

 Professional Level Winter Animal Tracking.  Also originally designed by Jim Bruchac for the NYS DEC to aid with various winter species surveys. While such training still continues this class is now open to the general public. Course involves basic-advanced print identification, basic-advanced gaits, basic scatology and hair ID, tracking data collection and CyberTracker database, snow casting, as well as 4 to 5 hours of tracking field studies. Note: Extended Tracking Internships and Apprentice Programs available upon request.

 Snow Tracking Cougars, Wolves and Other Rare Animals.  Offered every other year at Ndakinna (last class 1/2005, next Class 1/2007). Use snow to locate rare, low-density species. Trail animals to learn their behavior and their habitat preferences. This professional level course is for naturalists, wildlife managers, ecologists, etc.

 Lectures include Tracking Rare Species, Snow Track Anatomy, Identification & Measuring, Size & Sex Determination, Aging Tracks, Mammal Gaits & Stories in Trails, Databases, Species Track Accounts, Discriminant & Photographic Analysis, Field Preparations & Survey Design, Equipment, Data & Criteria Sheets, CyberTracking Overview.

 Field Sessions include Snow Tracking (seeing tracks in snow, snow quality, aging tracks, reading gaits), and Plaster Casts. Species covered include Lynx, Wolf, Fisher, Marten, Cougar, Wolverine, and Confusing Species.

 Basic Tracking (at Yellowstone).  Taught by Jim Halfpenny & assisted by James Bruchac (part of the Yellowstone Wolf and Grizzly Tracking Expedition – see below). Covers the basics of footprints, aging, relative size, gaits, and reading stories. Prerequisite to Advanced Tracking.

 Advanced Tracking (at Yellowstone).  Taught by Jim Halfpenny & assisted by James Bruchac (part of the Yellowstone Wolf and Grizzly Tracking Expedition – see below). Prerequisite: Basic Tracking, Mammal Signs, or instructor permission. Short review of basics followed by advanced gaits and trail interpretation. Covers plate tracking, databases, discriminant analysis, and differentiating among close species i.e. dogs and wolves.

 CyberTracker in the Field.  Taught by Jim Halfpenny & assisted by James Bruchac (part of the Yellowstone Wolf and Grizzly Tracking Expedition). This introductory class covers the master CyberTracker program and sequences designed to allow you to immediately use your handheld device for tracking. You will go home with working copies of all computer programs. Includes afternoon field sessions and evening workshop. Basic knowledge of tracking required. You may wish to purchase a CyberTracker handheld/GPS unit before coming. Access at home to a PC is required to use CyberTracker.

 Yellowstone Wolf & Grizzly Tracking Expedition.  Join Ndakinna Director Jim Bruchac along with famed tracker and Naturalist World Director Dr. James Halfpenny for a week of tracking in Yellowstone National Park. With a special focus on tracking grizzly and wolves, participants will not only learn how to identify the many clues these and other animals leave in the forest but actually go into the park every day to track them. Participants will also have a chance to track and observe such other park residence as elk, buffalo, western coyote, antelope, black bears and more. Plenty of plaster will be provided so that participants can go home with plaster casts of the various animal tracks they find.