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Cedar Creek Fall Survey: Sep 21-22

posted Aug 12, 2019, 10:03 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Sep 17, 2019, 9:10 AM ]

It's time for the Fall 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 Summer Survey here.

Fall Survey, September 21-22

Our Fall Survey will include three field sessions over two days, plus an opportunity to stay overnight at Cedar Creek. We will head out in teams to survey sand roads and check track plates, 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 weekend.

Saturday, September 21
Session 1: 9:00am ~ 12:00pm
Lunch: ~12:00pm - 1:00pm
Session 2: 1:00pm ~ 5:00pm

Sunday, September 22
Session 3: 9:00am ~ 4:00pm
(including lunch in the field)

Bring your own lunches. We will have lunch at the Lindeman Center on Saturday and (weather permitting) in the field on Sunday. Cedar Creek will provide coffee and snacks.

Overnight Accommodations

For those who would like to stay overnight on Saturday, Cedar Creek is offering us housing on campus for the extraordinary low rate of $7 (there is an additional fee if you want Cedar Creek to provide linens). Our dorm can accommodate 10 people. Register right away to guarantee your spot. Meals will be on our own, and each dorm has complete kitchen facilities.


Registration is required. To register, email Jonathan Poppele <> or use our contact form. Let us know which sessions you plan to attend, and if you plan to stay overnight.

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 page to offer or request a ride.

Bring Your Questions

In recent surveys, our teams have identified the tracks of about 30 species including black bear, 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 summer. Some of the questions that came up after our summer survey include:

  • Where are the wolves? We haven't seen any sign of them in our past two surveys, and it appears that the coyote are settling in on the North Unit. Are they just ranging more widely? Have they left the area? Will they return?
  • Can we learn to distinguish the small bird tracks we are finding with greater confidence? And with the birds generally so visible and audible, is there scientific value in learning to do so? It certainly is fun and rewarding!
  • Why did we see such a small variety of mammals during our summer survey? Was it just chance? Was it a result of where we happened to survey? Or does it reflect something about the movement of some of these animals during the summer months?
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

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, or look read about our past surveys on our blog.

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