This is a raccoon footprint preserved in dried mud in a salt flat here in the Bay Area. Over the last year and a half, I’ve gotten interested in animal tracking. Not trailing animals, attempting to follow or find them, but identifying their tracks and types of movement. It has opened up an additional vista into the landscape. We don’t often see animals such as bobcats, mountain lions, or foxes, but when they leave tracks behind we have evidence of their presence.
Last week I participated in a Cybertracker track and sign evaluation. Cybertracker is the international standard for wildlife tracking and certification. Over the course of a day and a half, we were asked 54 questions about tracks, sign, and gaits (movement patterns). In all, we evaluated 32 species, including 14 mammals, 11 birds, three reptiles/amphibians, and two invertebrates. I achieved a Level 3 certification, which means that I scored 90% or higher. To get to Level 4, you have to score 100%. There is also a Specialist designation, which also requires scoring 100% in the presence of two evaluators over the course of a more rigorous two-day evaluation. Something to shoot for. 🙂