Resources 

Here are some recommended resources to dig deeper into the world of wildlife tracking. Scroll down or jump to:

(note that this page is still under construction and many sections are still in development- more soon!)

Tracking Schools/Mentors

Tracker Certification

Online Tracker Programs

Tracking Expeditions & Travel

Tracker Conferences & Gatherings

Tracking Clubs

Community (Citizen) Science Projects

Wildlife Monitoring & Research

 

Field Guides & Other Books

Note: Clicking on any of the images below will direct you to the Amazon listing for that book. If you choose to purchase through that link, I will receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you) which will support the maintenance of this webpage. 

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If there's only one tracking guide on your shelf, it should probably be Mark Elbroch's Mammal Tracks & Sign. It stands as the definitive guide for North American mammals, and the 2nd edition (released summer 2019) features many photo and info updates, plus a new format that makes for more straightforward navigation of the 680 pages. At that size, it's not the easiest book to carry in the field, but it's a fantastic reference to use at home, offering new insights every time you open it. 

If you're looking to expand beyond mammals, Stackpole Books also publishes the guides for reptiles & amphibians (herps), birds, and insects & invertebrates shown below. All are excellent, photo-rich and carefully detailed. 

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This is a classic that features detailed species accounts describing behavior, tracks, trail patterns and sign for mammals and birds. Though it's less useful as a quick reference for species comparisons, the story-filled text makes for really engaging reading that brings each animal to life and offers insights into the experience of tracking them. 

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This is not a field guide to compare tracks and sign but rather a guide to the process of becoming a tracker (or generally more aware of the natural world). It's full of inspiring stories and exercises to build your tracking toolkit, including chapters on journaling, sensory awareness, mapping, interpreting tracks and patterns, trailing, storytelling, bird language, and more. Don't be fooled by the basic title; this book offers a lot. 

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Where the field guides above go into the details of identifying and interpreting tracks and sign, Practical Tracking covers the other half of what it means to be a tracker: the art of trailing (following and finding) animals. It's written by three true master trackers, drawing on their experiences following and finding both African and North American species like leopards, lions, rhinos, bears, cougars, moose and elk.

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Olaus Murie (biologist, tracker, artist, and wilderness advocate) wrote the original guide to tracking in 1954. Mark Elbroch updated the text in 2005 with a new ID key, color photos, and natural history info, all while maintaining Murie's text and stories. The 3rd edition covers mammals, birds, herps and invertebrates in probably the most comprehensive field-friendly guide to all North American species (though the classic text is also a gem).  

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More than a tracking guide, this is a regional wildlife guide focused on mammals but also touching on some birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and invertebrates. It covers track and sign (in less detail than Elbroch's book and the Stackpole series above) but also detailed descriptions of each animal including ID, reproduction, diet, habitat, and conservation issues- and it's full of great photos.

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Animal Tracks and Scat of California is another regional guide but applicable to much of the west, making it a great option if you're looking for a guide to mammals, birds, and some herps and inverts. It goes in-depth on tracks, scats and scent-marking behavior. One thing that really makes it standout are its drawings of animal feet (contributed by Michael Kresky).  

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This is my go-to reference for looking up mammal behavior and ecology. The supremely detailed and scientifically referenced species accounts cover activity patterns, food and foraging, habitat and home range, communication, courtship and mating, development and dispersal of young, interactions within the species and with other species- all in a way that's acessible to a general audience.

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A growing number of trackers and researches use motion and heat-activated trail cameras (camera traps) to detect elusive animals. Janet Pesaturo draws on years of experience to explain where to look for wildlife and how to capture interesting and under-studied behavior on camera. The book is worth the read for the animal behavior info alone but is also hugely inspiring to get out camera trapping.

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If you want to go really light-weight, Local Tracks of North America is as accurate and detailed a fold-out guide as you can find. Based on Mark Elbroch's books, it features 6 panels (back and front) with tracks of 52 mammal species, 21 birds, and a sampling of reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates- and a whole panel of scat photos and measurements! It's waterproofed and includes a 5" ruler to easily reference track measurements. This guide's occasionally available on Amazon but more reliably direct from the producer.

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Videos & Podcasts

Visit the Tracking Connection YouTube Channel for a compilation of tracking videos- as well as originals coming in 2021. 

Steve Leckman's study of animal gaits, shown here, is the video I share more than any other. He demonstrates different types of animal body movement and intersperses clips of other animals moving that way and what the corresponding pattern looks like on the ground. Super useful for understanding track patterns!

Other videos and tracking-related podcasts are linked below.

Podcasts

The Art of Tracking Radio (Google) is a 58-episode series of interviews with pro trackers produced in 2016-17.

Naturalistics (Apple, Google) is my own podcast with Matt Haviland and Stefan Gaschott, dedicated to helping you become a better naturalist. We're currently on a break from producing new episodes, but here are some of my favorites from past months:

My interview about citizen science and tracking

Trailing for beginners

Specialist track and sign eval recap

Igniting the naturalist spark

Ron Waline's Wilderness & Wellness Podcast (Apple, Google) features a tracking series, including this great interview with Kersey Lawrence, the only female senior tracker in the world. 

The Canadian Bushcraft Podcast (Apple, Google) featured a great intro to tracking interview with Chris Gilmour.

Videos

Kim Cabrera's Beartracker Nature Films​. Kim is a tracking specialist based in Northern California. She offers great interpretation of track and sign as well as animal behavior captured on trail cameras.

Janet Pesaturo (author of the Camera Trapping Guide) has over 100 trail camera videos (with her edits and interpretation) featured on her YouTube channel

 

Facebook Groups

Many trackers shy away from social media, but those of us who use Facebook can connect with a vibrant community of trackers of all experience levels sharing a steady stream of photos and videos from the field. Post a mystery track photo and you'll often have several expert trackers weighing in within hours or at most a couple of days- though you may have to sift through inaccurate and unsubstantiated assertions to get to the most informed opinions. It can make for a rich learning experience on many levels! There are several groups you can join, some broad and others targeted by region.

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Other Websites & Online Resources

In development... check back soon.​

 

Tracking Schools/Mentors

Tracker Certification

Online Tracker Programs

Tracking Expeditions & Travel

Tracker Conferences & Gatherings

Tracking Clubs

Community (Citizen) Science Projects

Wildlife Monitoring & Research