Volunteers Needed to Track Abundant Wildlife In San Diego


Tracking printsDespite its dry climate, San Diego County is home to wildlife ranging from mule deer and coyotes to mountain lions and big horn sheep.

The San Diego Tracking Team is a group of volunteers who conduct surveys tracking the movement of wildlife and work to preserve their presence in San Diego.

Four times a year, the San Diego Tracking Team conducts training for potential volunteers at the Los Penasquitos Canyon Ranch House. One of those opportunities occurs this Saturday from 9AM – 4PM.

If you are interested in learning how to identify animal prints you come across on the myriad of hiking trails in San Diego but don’t necessarily want to commit a full day to training, the San Diego Tracking Club also offers 1 – 2 hour introductions once a month at the Ranch House. I participated in an introductory tracking event this past Saturday.

Several animal tracks were identified around the Ranch House and we were taught the process that is used to identify the types of animals they belong too. I learned it is not as easy as one might think and that it helps to develop a knowledge of the types of animals that roam the area, how many toes they have, whether or not they have claws, and their typical patterns of movement.

Tracking groupAnother interesting thing I learned was Bergmann’s Rule. In layman’s terms, it means the warmer the climate, the less body mass or volume that is needed by a mammal or bird and vice-versa. Thus, the animals, and as a result, their tracks, found in San Diego are smaller than ones found in northern parts of the country. The coyotes in San Diego are much smaller than the ones in Yellowstone. Now that I know this, the coyote noises I hear at night don’t seem as intimidating. :-)

Even if you attend the full day session this Saturday, you are not expected to be an expert volunteer. But, it is hoped you will volunteer a few times a year to help identify tracks for the experts to review.

So, here is your chance wildlife enthusiasts to get closer to nature and volunteer to help preserve wildlife at the same time.

As an fyi, this Saturday’s event is not posted on the San Diego Tracking Team web site. But, you are welcome to show up at the Ranch House by 9AM on Saturday. Directions can be found below the calendar of the 1-hour introductory tracking events.

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