Wildlife Safety & Awareness, Bird Voices, Animal Tracks & Trails

Saturday, May 20, 2023 Workshop from 9:30-4:30 in Orting WA, just 45 minutes south of Seattle

Nikki van Schyndel - Cougar & Track - Pencil DrawingJoin us for a great day tracking and trailing wild animals. Learn to know when cougars, coyotes, bears or other critters are around by listening to the birds on the trail, and learn what to do in case you run into them. Learn to view nature like a detective, following clues and solving mysteries that others neglect to see. Amazingly, animals reveal themselves to all who can read their stories in the earth. As you will see, tracks can even tell us about the size, health, emotions, history and even intentions of animals which would otherwise remain hidden all around us.

We’ll start with a safety overview for living, hiking, hunting and foraging in wolf, cougar and bear country. It is important to understand large predators and their prey in order to keep yourself safe, and to keep them safe in the wild. That’s the crux of the matter: everyone wants to protect nature and themselves at the same time. The key is knowledge, and taking right action based on that knowledge. Also, wolves have returned to Washington & Oregon. So now, we have more than just cougars and bears to consider. That sounds scary, but in reality, there will be fewer cougars and black bears because wolves will be competing on the same territory. Wolves are statistically the least dangerous, but despite the insignificant chance of a dangerous encounter with any of these megafauna, your behavior when around them should deflect their triggers. Each species has particular triggers to become aware of, and you should learn their “language” in order to avoid problems.

Listening to Cedar Waxwing Bird Song - Artwork by Joanna Powell Colbert
Listening to Cedar Waxwing – Artwork by Joanna Powell Colbert

The workshop takes place where sign of all the big and little wild animals found in our bioregion are concentrated for all to see. Whether you hunt with a camera, bow or gun, or if you just love northwest wildlife, you are welcome you to join us for a special day of tracking. Learn specialized tracking and trailing skills as we venture to get close to elk, deer, bear, and a host of other critters as well. In addition to learning what to do in case you run into bears on the trail, you will gain skills to help you become the first to know where to find (or avoid) their hidden dens.

The most important skill in nature is awareness, whether it be for safety or discovering animals. We will head outside for the remainder of class, and start by practicing “wide angle vision” like owls do, plus “expanded hearing” like deer use to decipher whether sounds they hear in the forest are predators or friendlies, and the “stealth walk” like foxes teach us in order to move undetected in nature so we see more animals and experience their behavior as if we weren’t there. We like to say that if you bring home just one set of skills from tonight’s class, that these awareness activities are it. They will help you see more wildlife, and keep you safer, in city and wilderness, better than any other set of knowledge.

In order to help you open to a world of evidence that animals leave wherever they move, we’ll look for and discuss scrapes, lays, burrows, latrines, larders, nests, partial tracks, pressure releases, vegetative cuttings, and everything else we can find – even the condition of feathers to determine exactly how or if a bird might have been killed or injured.You also have to be able to trail animals if you want to find them, so now that your eyes are adjusted to seeing sign, we’re going to train you in the kind of trailing that real animal trackers use, keeping your head up and walking fast, identifying voices of the birds to know what is up ahead!

Chris measuring mountain lion tracks during workshop.

You will learn to interpret what animals are doing based on their tracks while also understanding the characteristics of mammal families present in our area. We view nature like a detective, following clues and solving mysteries that others neglect to see. Amazingly, animals reveal themselves to all who can read their stories in the earth. Tracks can even tell us about the size, health, emotions, history and even intentions of animals which would otherwise remain hidden all around us. Something that really helps is to learn “animal forms” which are the way animals move, as this is critical to really understand how tracks get laid on the ground.


Who are the instructors? Wolf Camp directors Kim & Chris Chisholm are leading this workshop.

What ages can participate? Workshops are designed for adults, but youth may enroll with a parent/guardian.

How should we prepare for the workshop? Please prepare as you normally would for a hike, including snacks, lunch, water bottle, 10 essentials, etc., but especially with appropriate clothing including rain gear and waterproof footwear. Also, bring along a set of binoculars, digital camera, and if you don’t have a birding field guide yet and wish to purchase one, we recommend: Wildlife of the Pacific Northwest by David Moskowitz, among others.

Tacoma Art Museum piece by Rueben Lorch-Miller on “The Rules” based on cougar encounters is a good rule of thumb in life as well, but not as good as the rules regarding bears which have personalities more varied like people.

Cost & Registration

Cost for one workshop is $95 for one person, and $90 per additional friend/family member registering in advance.

Reserve your space by sending full payment via Zelle (preferred) to recipient “kim@wolfcollege.com” but be sure to include a note with your email address, phone number, participant names, and workshop dates because Zelle does not automatically share that information, or call us anytime at 425-248-0253 ex 1 to register over the phone with a credit card.

Or Use PayPal to register online securely with a credit/debit card or via direct withdrawal from your bank account. Just sign into paypal.com and “send money” to our email address or use the PayPal links below – might not be visible if you are using “reader view” on your phone or other device: (we’ll get back to you with any additional information we may need)

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Or email us to be put on our our list for the future. We always keep your information absolutely private, and will never share it. Have you ever attended one of our programs before? Please review us on our Better Business Bureau, Facebook, Yelp &Google pages.

Can we get a refund if we cancel? Our refund policy below only offers credit for future programs if you cancel: payments are not refundable unless we don’t accept your application. If you cancel for any reason, you may receive a full credit good through the following calendar year on appropriate and available programs listed on our schedule, although an additional deposit is needed to secure your spot in the future program. If a program you sign up for is canceled and not rescheduled at a time you can attend, you may receive a full refund except in cases of natural (weather, geologic, wildfire, etc) disasters, epidemics, grid failures, government shutdowns, conflicts or curfews, or other unforeseen emergencies making it unsafe for staff and/or attendees to reach or use program locations, in which case all payments made will be held by us without expiration date for your future use in appropriate/available programs of your choice. Reasons include the expenditure of funds (property rentals, advertising, materials, admin staff time, etc.) long before programs take place, i.e. deposits make it feasible for Wolf Camp to schedule programs in the first place, but our mutually understood agreement is that Wolf Camp will run the program at the safest available time in the future. Finally, no refund, nor credit, is given if a participant is asked to leave a program for inappropriateness as determined by our kids, youth and adult agreements for participation.

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