What is the Berkshire Wildlife Trackers Monitoring Program?
Berkshire Wildlife Trackers (BWT) is hosted by Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT) and Berkshire Natural Resource Council (BNRC). This group of volunteers has been trained to read the woods and other natural habitats for tracks and signs of wildlife. These trained wildlife monitors go out in small teams to collect data that tells a story of how wildlife species use the natural areas of Berkshire County and the surrounding areas. Berkshire Environmental Action Team maintains a database of the data collected by the teams and shares this data with scientists, educators, government agencies, and land protection organizations to help protect wildlife species and important wildlife habitat and linkages in the region.
How Are Berkshire Keeping Track Wildlife Monitors Trained?
BEAT and BNRC contract with Keeping Track® to provide an exciting and intensive training for our trackers. The training includes two days in the classroom and six full-day training workshops in the field. Most of the training is done on weekends, and the training is spread out over a year so that trainees have tracking experience in all seasons.
The training sessions are run by nationally recognized naturalist, habitat identification specialist, and photographer Sue Morse of Keeping Track®, who trains our trackers in the use of a scientifically-based data collection methodology so that they can document their field observations using a protocol that is useful to environmental scientists and others who regularly use this type of data.
Training includes: detection and interpretation of tracks and signs of agreed upon focal species for the Berkshires, conservation biology and how it relates to data collection and land protection, forest ecology and plant identification and what it tells us about how Berkshire species use local habitat, ‘search imaging’ (Sue Morse’s technique for predictably looking in the right places and finding wildlife signs), and an introduction to science-based field studies.
Our next class begins in October. Application to join the team.
How Does BWT Fit Into The Larger Land-Protection Picture?
BEAT is part of the Wildlands and Woodlands Partnership, Teaming With Wildlife, and theTransWild Alliance.We work with these and other partners such as Berkshire Natural Resources Council to identify existing and potential linkages among large protected areas in and around the Berkshires. Wildlife need open space, but they also benefit from corridors that link these open spaces. Connections and linkages magnify the benefits of open space. We are also looking at where our transportation network intersects those linkages with an eye to decreasing the impact of our road network on ecosystem connectivity. The Berkshire Wildlife Trackers provide much-needed data so that intelligent decisions can be made in maximizing the benefits of wildlife corridors and protecting our natural habitats and wilderness species.
What’s Happening Now At Berkshire Wilderness Trackers?
Berkshire Wildlife Trackers currently has teams monitoring transects in and around the Berkshires. The trackers are working with BEAT and BNRC to look at linkages among our already protected landscapes. We are providing our information to planners to help them make informed decisions about land acquisition and protection.
Berkshire Wildlife Trackers is now looking for volunteers to form a third group of 18 to be trained for the monitoring program. Training will start in October 2010. On September 22, Sue Morse of Keeping Track® will be in the Berkshires to present her program Bobcats, Mountain Lions, Moose and More. This will be a great opportunity for anyone wanting to learn more about the training program.
Becoming Part Of The Berkshire Wildlife Trackers Team
Our third group of monitors will begin training in October of 2010. Would you like to take action to ensure that wildlife always has a place in and around the Berkshires? If so, please read the information below and consider joining the program. Application.
If you would like to be trained to be a Berkshire Wildlife Tracker, here are a few things to consider:
- To complete the training you must be able to be outside in the cold and snow all day.
- You must be able to hike up and down uneven terrain. (The group moves very slowly, looking at track and sign, so the pace is not strenuous.)
- You will be asked to commit to approximately one day per month for training, and about the same for monitoring for at least two years. Training and monitoring are on weekends. Schedule: 2010-2011.
- You will be asked to pay part of the cost of training. The cost to BEAT of training a wildlife monitor is about $1,200. Trainees are asked to pay $450 of this cost, plus the cost of staying overnight in Vermont for three of the trainings. If you are enthusiastic about the prospect of a local wildlife monitoring group and willing to make the commitment to training and annual monitoring but money is an issue, please talk to the BWT coordinator about the cost. Some assistance may be available. If you cannot afford the entire amount, are you willing to help raise the money?
Have questions? – Please, first take a look at the Keeping Track® website for more information about the training.
Links to other wildlife tracking groups.