Wildlife Survey Field Methods (WSFM)
Images (c) Rory Hill
Wildlife Survey Field Methods (WSFM) is an applied three-day course that provides an introduction and overview for nine ground-based and five aerial-based wildlife survey methods. Using classroom instruction, demonstrations, and field exercises participants learn to conduct ground-based surveys using direct observation of individuals and measurement of animal sign such as scat and tracks. The aerial surveys are confined to classroom instruction only. Survey methods introduced are Resources Information Standards Committee (RISC) protocols, but also include methods not included in the RISC library (e.g., camera traps; basic reading of tracks, scat, and sign). Course material is currently targeted on the large ungulates and carnivores of BC, with future plans to augment and customize the course to include regionally-important species.
Survey methods introduced include:
Ground counts at seasonal concentrations
Camera trap station
Pellet group counts
Tracks and sign
Snow track surveys
Hair capture station
Aerial snow tracking
In addition to traditional survey methods, participants will also determine age and sex of animals, interpret sign, and measure trackways to assist in understanding animal behaviour. This course is a hybrid; comprised one-half of scientific survey and one-half of woodcraft (identifying and interpreting sign; attracting and baiting animals).
Each NRTG course includes free, lifetime admission. Enroll once - come back anytime.
The Wildlife Survey Field Methods program is delivered as a scheduled course delivery or as a contract to organizations and groups. See “How Do I Attend?” below.
Upon successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:
Conduct nine (9) ground-based wildlife survey methods
Conduct five (5) aerial wildlife survey methods
Identify wildlife, tracks and behaviour
Choose appropriate survey methods based on target species and seasonal timing
Install, operate and maintain camera traps
Determine age and sex of animals
Interpret sign of animal presence
Measure trackways to aid in interpreting animal behaviour
Attract and bait animals to detect presence
The WSFM course is three days in duration and includes a combination of classroom theory, exercises and field practicum. Each course day includes classroom and field training with a strong emphasis on ‘hands on’ training, where participants review, learn and practice field skills under the direction of a highly-qualified wildlife biologist.
This course is typically delivered weekdays and may extend 8:30am to 4:30pm or longer depending on field site locations. Custom or ‘in-house’ course deliveries to an organization or company may vary in format.
The WSFM course can be customized for an organization, company or aboriginal group based on their needs. For instance, this course can focus on specific animal species of interest or regions or time-of-year surveys (e.g., summer vs winter surveys).
Please contact us with your ideas and needs, and we'll work with you to design and customize this course to meet specific needs.
Field Methods for Wildlife Surveys is intended for biologists and environmental technicians beginning their careers or seeking instruction protocols, First Nation environmental technicians required to conduct wildlife surveys in their territories, or others looking for a general introduction to a variety of large mammal wildlife scientific survey methods.
Knowledge and experience with basic field tools such as map, compass, and GPS is recommended.
Personal Equipment Requirements:
Waterproof field notebook (example), suitable all-weather boots, appropriate clothing for field work. Binoculars, GPS and compass are optional but recommended.
For further information, or for further assistance, please contact NRTG.
How do I Attend?
The WSFM course is offered as a regularly-scheduled course delivery and on contract to organizations, companies and aboriginal groups throughout the year in provinces and communities throughout Canada. Scheduled courses are posted on the NRTG Schedule Page.
If you would like to inquire to have us bring this course to your community or organization, please contact us for further information and consider the following:
Contact us well in advance of your preferred course start date
If applicable, secure program funding
Recruit course participants (most NRTG courses have minimum enrollments of 10 participants)
Coordinate course participant equipment, classroom facility, and contractual agreement with NRTG.
Note: See “Course Customization” above for more information about ‘in-house’ course delivery options.
Dr. Sean Mitchell has over 30 years experience in environmental sampling and analysis of wildlife populations including fish, crustaceans, birds, reptiles, and mammals in four provinces. He brings an applied field-based approach to sampling and nests that within the constraints of study design to teach students not only how to conduct the field work, but also why it is important to follow particular protocols. He has also been teaching for almost fifteen years, having taught at three universities and in First Nation communities.