Tracking and the Secret Life of Animals

Students learn what signs in nature reveal about local animal behavior and how to identify animals through the tracks they leave behind.

Program Details

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Tracking and the Secret Life of Animals


•The Secret Life of Animals.pdf •Tracking.pdf •Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice •Access to the Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre
  • Teacher begins by discussing with students how animal tracks can help us understand what is happening in the natural world. For instance, most of the activity that happens in the animal world happens away from our view. Animal tracks, however, provide us with a way of finding out more about the secretive lives of animals. Tracking is a universal activity that is done by people around the world including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe people local to this land base.
  • Anishinaabe Knowledge Keeper Caleb Musgrave from Hiawatha First Nation has a YouTube Channel and podcast called Canadian Bushcraft. Here teachers and students can learn more about animal tracking. Learning Nature’s Language with Chris Gilmour is also another excellent source.
  • In these sources, Anishinaabe Knowledge Keeper Caleb Musgrave shares that observation and curiosity are the two most important skills a tracker can have. For this reason, tracking should always be started with a period of quiet observation. Students can practice sitting still and watching the environment around them. I.e.: what can they hear, feel, smell, and even taste? Tracking requires asking questions of the land and having the patience to hear the answers.
  • Next, a tracker will look for SPOOR. SPOOR refers to the term for all of the signs left behind by animals. A tracker will also attempt to interpret the size, shape, and pattern of tracks. Use The Secret Life of Animals.pdf to lead a discussion with students regarding background knowledge needed by a successful trapper.
  • At ELEEC a tracking activity will be offered. Teachers may also feel comfortable offering this activity in an outdoor space near their school by following the instructions included in the Tracking.pdf.
Optional Extension:

Students may choose to read the book Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice to learn more about Anishinaabe Hunting, Trapping and Tracking.