Events‎ > ‎

Cedar Creek Spring Survey, Sat Apr 28

posted Mar 28, 2018, 12:18 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Apr 12, 2018, 9:47 AM ]

The Cedar Creek Wildlife Survey 

The Cedar Creek Wildlife Survey is a joint venture between the Minnesota Wildlife Tracking Project and the University of Minnesota's Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. It is a unique opportunity to improve your tracking skills, connect with nature, and help Cedar Creek scientists learn about the wildlife living on their property. You can read about our last survey here on our blog.

Spring Survey, Saturday, April 28

This year, our Spring Survey will be an official part of the iNaturalist City Nature Challenge--a friendly competition between 60 cities around the world do document biodiversity near urban centers. Our teams will conduct our regular surveys, while guests will be invited to tag along with survey teams and record their own observations.

The Survey will be an all day affair. We will head out in teams to survey sand roads for animal tracks, then come back in to share our discoveries with one another. Each team will be led by an experienced wildlife tracker, certified in Track & Sign identification. Here is the schedule for the day:

8:30am    Gathering at Lindman Center
9:30am    Tracking teams leave for the field
  --Lunch in the field--
~2:30pm  Return from the field for mapping, debriefing and sharing
4:30pm    Complete

This is an all-weather affair. Please come dressed to spend most of the day outside in whatever conditions we have that day. Bring your own lunches and snacks. Weather permitting, we will eat lunch in the field. Cedar Creek will provide coffee and snacks in the morning.

Please register using our contact form, or write Caitlin Potter <caitlin@umn.edu> or Jonathan Poppele <poppele@umn.edu> to let us know you are coming.

Want to Carpool?

We have a new tool to help coordinate carpooling. If you would like to share the trip to Cedar Creek, you can use our Group Carpool webpage to offer or request a ride.

Bring Your Questions

In recent surveys, our teams have identified the tracks of about 20 species including southern flying squirrel, fisher, mink, red fox and grey wolf. We have been noting the behavior of deer, coyote and fox in relation to the shifting wolf population, and seeing some of our wolf track sightings verified by Cedar Creek's new network of trail cameras. A lot has been changing every season and we are looking forward to what we will find this spring. Some of the questions that have come up in recent surveys include:
  • Why are the coyote moving so freely in the north unit, even when there is fresh wolf sign in the area? What has changed since last spring when they were avoiding this area?
  • Where are the bobcat? One showed up on a trail camera last year, but we have not seen tracks on any of our surveys. Was that individual a dispersing male just passing through, or are they in the reserve and we are just missing their sign?
  • Are there badger in the area? We found one, tantalizing, partial track that looked like it might have been from a badger on East Bethel Blvd over a year ago--but no sign since then. They have been sighted in the reserve, but not recently.
What questions do you have about the landscape, the animals and their behavior? We will take some time to share questions before we head out into the field.


About Cedar Creek

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve is a 5,400 acre experimental ecological reserve operated by the University of Minnesota. It is located about 35 miles north of Minneapolis and St. Paul, just east of Bethel.

Cedar Creek lies at the boundary between prairie and forest. It is a mosaic of uplands dominated by oak savanna, prairie, hardwood forest, pine forests, and abandoned agricultural fields and of lowlands comprised of ash and cedar swamps, acid bogs, marshes, and sedge meadows. The area was first set aside in the early 1940s to be kept in its natural condition for scientific and educational purposes. Much of the land remains pristine, and has never been developed for agriculture. You can learn more at www.cedarcreek.umn.edu

The diverse, pristine habitat supports a wide variety of mammals. Species seen on the property over the Reserve's 75 year history include white-tailed jackrabbits, badger, fisher, fox squirrels, porcupine & spotted skunks. Reserve staff and scientists are looking for our help to update their index of mammals. If you are a beginner, the surveys will offer an overview of the diversity of Minnesota Mammals. For the advanced tracker, you might get to try your hand at distinguishing fisher from otter; fox squirrel from grey squirrel; and a variety of tiny mammal tracks. You can take a look at some of what our tracking teams have found on our iNaturalist Project Page

The property includes 25 miles of sand roads, which catch tracks beautifully. The roads will be grated shortly before our surveys, offering optimal tracking conditions for us to locate and identify a rich diversity of species.

Public access to the Reserve is limited. The Cedar Creek Wildlife Survey program offers you the rare opportunity to explore this exceptional landscape.


Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve
2660 Fawn Lake Dr NE
Bethel, Minnesota 55005


For a map & directions to Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, click here

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve