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Wildlife Survey Field Methods Self Paced

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Description of Course

Wildlife Survey Field Methods is an online course in which the students have two calendar months to complete the course. There are four offerings of the course in a year, one in each season. The course is comprised of:

  1. Online material to be worked through, consisting of text, video, quizzes, case studies, etc.
  2. Four live sessions, two hours each, with an NRTG instructor over the two-month period. These live sessions will be via Zoom and are intended to provide additional information to that provided online, provide opportunity for Q and A, and provide support to students participating in the course. These live sessions will be recorded. Attendance in the live session or watching the recorded session is required for certification of this course. These sessions will assume the students have worked through one quarter of the course in each two-week block.
  3. Three assignments to be submitted to NRTG. These assignments are mandatory and will be graded and feedback provided.

Successful certification of Wildlife Survey Field Methods requires:

  • Completion of all online modules and quizzes
  • Attendance to 100% of live sessions or watching the recordings of live sessions
  • Submission of all required assignments
  • Achieving a grade greater than 60% across all assignments

Course Introduction 

The mammalian fauna of North America includes a very large array of species living in a myriad of environments and habitats. Yet we need to be able to go out and survey these animals for a wide variety of purposes, whether that is management, research, protection of species and habitats, or assessing the impact of developments. Our methods and approaches for conducting these surveys are numerous because of the wide range of species and various reasons for surveying.

Right at the outset we’ll emphasize that effective surveys require a large amount of effort. All wildlife species are very proficient at avoiding our detection and hiding before we can find them. For these reasons, in this course we examine a large variety of surveying methods rather than detailing only a few that require sighting of animals. The effective wildlife survey technician will incorporate as many methods and forms of wildlife evidence they possibly can in their surveys in order to form a comprehensive understanding of wildlife use of a landscape.

We also wish to emphasize that wildlife surveys are a great deal of fun. Once you become familiar with looking for sign and carcasses and other evidence of use, you begin to see the evidence of wild animals everywhere you go. The skills of conducting wildlife surveys will open your eyes to the abundance and variety of wild mammals around you in whatever environment you live. We hope in this course to pass the passion and enthusiasm of wildlife observation along to you, the student, so that you will enjoy and appreciate all of the wildlife in your area, whether for pleasure or work.

This course is comprised of nine modules ranging from the conceptual of why we survey through to detailed and specific methods how to survey and using the data derived from these surveys. The intent is to provide the student with a comprehensive overview of mammalian survey methodologies and uses. This course is, however, only an introduction. Subsequent NRTG courses, Wildlife Survey Field Methods: Ungulates and Wildlife Survey Field Methods: Carnivores delve deeper into survey techniques and methods for each of those specific groups. Further, within selected modules the additional resources provided will help to fill out the descriptions and appreciation of the various subjects.

Sean Mitchell, PhD, RP Bio

Fisheries Biologist
Headshot of Sean Mitchell, Fisheries Biologist and NRTG instructor.

Sean has worked in and studied the field of biology and impact assessment since 1987 and in that time has gained experience in four Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland) working on a broad array of fish and wildlife, from periphyton to mammals. Sean’s experience has ranged widely from basic fieldwork to experimental biomechanics of crustaceans; from environmental impact analyses and fisheries issues through biogeography, philosophy, and sophisticated data analyses and modelling; from forests to the ocean. Sean has been, and strives to remain, a generalist in a world of hyper specialization and fascination with technology.