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Contact information
For information on the Volunteer Tracking Program, contact:
Jane Wiedenhoeft
Track Program Manager
715-762-1362

Wisconsin's volunteer carnivore tracking program

Carnivores are often secretive and occupy very large home ranges, making it difficult to monitor them by direct observation. However, we can still estimate the abundance and distribution of carnivores by observing the number and location of their tracks.

A pack of Wisconsin gray wolves as seen from the air. Photo courtesy of Paul Lueders.

A pack of Wisconsin gray wolves as seen from the air. Photo courtesy of Paul Lueders.

Anyone can join in on the fun!

Learn tracking skills and assist in wildlife surveys

Researchers from the Department of Natural Resources have conducted track surveys of fur-bearing mammals since 1977. In 1979, the DNR began conducting formal wolf track surveys as part of the state wolf monitoring program. A separate survey program for American marten began in 1981. Snow track surveys have also been used to determine distribution and abundance of fisher, bobcat and other forest carnivores in Wisconsin. Since 1995, the Wisconsin DNR has used volunteers to conduct snow track surveys for wolves and other carnivores.

The goals of the survey are to:

  1. determine the number, distribution, breeding status and territories of wolves in Wisconsin;
  2. develop a sense of the abundance and distribution of other medium-sized and large carnivores in the state; and
  3. determine the existence of rare carnivores such as Canada lynx, cougar and possibly wolverine.

Become a tracker!

Help monitor Wisconsin's wolf population by conducting winter track surveys

To participate, you will be expected to:

  • attend a wolf ecology course sponsored by DNR, Timber Wolf Alliance or Timber Wolf Information Network;
  • attend a track training course sponsored by the WI DNR;
  • take a mammal track test; and
  • agree to complete three surveys following DNR guidelines [PDF] and submit their findings.

Data received from this program is used to supplement DNR surveys and provide the public with opportunity to be involved in determining the status of our forest carnivores.

Carnivore tracker forms

Forms are available as online forms or PDF

Last revised: Monday May 12 2014