Join the Tracking Team!
search for tracks and sign of wildlife in the Mt. Hood snow!
Most wild animals are difficult to observe, even though they are all around us. By interpreting the footprints and other signs wildlife leave behind, tracking provides a way to unravel their mystery. Tracking can tell us not only about the presence of animals, but can also give a wealth of knowledge about how they are using and interacting with an environment.
Volunteers with the Winter Tracking Surveys are taking part in long-term data collection in the Mt Hood National Forest that will shape research and management decisions - true community science!
Read more about the Wolverine Tracking Project.
No previous experience necessary! These surveys provide a place for new and experienced trackers alike. Even if you are new to tracking, your observations are valuable, providing more eyes and brain-power to help find tracks.
Surveys are conducted on snowshoes. Snowshoes are the most versatile way to get around on snow. If you don't own snowshoes, Cascadia Wild has some you can borrow for your trip.
Group Tracking Surveys are done in teams of 2-10 Trackers led by 1-2 experienced volunteer Tracking Leaders. Tracking in a group allows for a better survey - the more eyes on the ground and the more hands to help document tracks improves the data quality and our knowledge of local wildlife.
Group Tracking Surveys also provide an excellent opportunity to gain experience tracking, where you can learn from leaders, apprentices, and each other all winter long!
Most survey trips are day-long trips that start on the mountain around 9:00am and end by 4:00pm, allowing for plenty of time to search for hare, bobcat, coyote, many other wildlife. There is usually one overnight camping trip as well.
Survey trips usually travel along one of our twelve tracking transects (see map below). Transects are 1 mile long, allowing for a comfortable pace, with plenty of time to stop and look at tracks!
Survey trip dates are scheduled ahead of time. You may come out as often as you like, however, we ask that you help out on at least two trips during the season. A link to sign up for trips will be given at the training.
Tracking Volunteer Qualifications:
Everyone is welcome to join, however, you must meet the following qualifications:
*Children under 18 years of age are welcome as long as they can meet the physical requirements and are accompanied by a Parent/Guardian.
Items marked with an *asterisk can be borrowed from Cascadia Wild. Equipment is reserved on a first-come basis and is subject to availability.
Not sure what personal gear to bring? See our packing list for some recommendations!
Group Survey Trips happen most weekends from December through March. Depending on snow conditions, surveys may end mid March or may extend into April.
Most survey trips are on Saturdays and Sundays, and there are usually 2-3 weekday trip as well. Most survey trips are day-long trips, starting the mountain around 9:00am and ending by 4:00pm. There is usually one overnight snow camping trip as well.
Information on signing up for trips will be given at the training.
Before attending a survey, participants need to attend the online training. This training covers background information on the surveys and survey protocols. The training for returning volunteers differs in that it will focus on what has changed from previous years.
These trainings are online, and will be recorded for those who can't attend.
INTRODUCTION TO WILDLIFE TRACKING COURSE
In addition to the Volunteer Training, trackers are very highly encouraged to attend the Introduction to Wildlife Tracking course, which teaches how to identify the tracks and trail patterns of the animals we expect to see during the surveys. This class is suitable for experienced trackers as well, as it will cover a lot of information specific to tracking in snow around Mt Hood. The class is offered as a sliding scale - pay what you can ($65 recommended) but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
Introduction to Wildlife Tracking - Online class:
Tue, November 9, 6:30-8:30 pm
This class will be recorded for those unable to attend.
An optional in-person Field Training will also be offered to provide additional instruction on identifying tracks and trail patterns in real life. If you are new to tracking, this hands-on training will especially be very helpful. It will be held along the Sandy River floodplain in Oxbow Park. There is no additional charge for the field session, however, there is a $5 entry fee to Oxbow Park. There are three sessions to choose from.
Introduction to Wildlife Tracking - Optional field class (choose one date):
The Tracking Surveys depend on knowledgeable trackers, and we would love to teach you these skills!
The Tracking Apprenticeship is for people looking to develop their tracking and leadership skills. Apprentices help on survey trips and receive one-on-one support and instruction.
Tracking Apprentices have:
Learn more about the Tracking Apprenticeship!
For Experienced Trackers
Want to go out with your friends and do a Tracking Survey? Experienced trackers are encouraged to conduct Self-Organized Tracking Surveys, going out to explore the snowy trails on their own schedule.
To carry out an Self-Organized Survey, we ask that you first have:
For data sheets, transect routes, and more information, please contact us.