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Wildlife Tracking Surveys

The Minnesota Wildlife Tracking Project partners with research and conservation organizations throughout the state to conduct wildlife tracking surveys.

The lead trackers on our survey are certified in Track & Sign Identification through, and have decades of experience in wildlife tracking and wildlife research.

Each of our projects also includes a strong Citizen Science component. We support interested naturalists in learning track and sign identification, and provide opportunities to participate in wildlife surveys, and to pursue certification in Track & Sign Identification. Many of our survey observations are available on

Our current projects include:

Cedar Creek Wildlife Survey 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.

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. 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.

We conduct formal surveys once per quarter. Members of this project who have participated in at least one formal survey can apply for a permit to access the property to track at other times. See our calendar for upcoming survey dates and contact us if you are interested in participating.

In the News:
The Long Term Ecological Research Network: Adventure is Out There: Pokémon and Wildlife Await

Minnesota Metro Otter Survey

Nps otter logo b wThe Minnesota Metro Otter Survey is a collaboration between the Minnesota Wildlife Tracking Project and the U.S National Park Service's Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. The National Park Service began surveying otter populations in the Metro Area Mississippi River in 2009 to assess water quality and ecosystem health. As an apex predator, otters provide a good indicator of water quality and also help keep lake and river ecosystems in balance.

This project has two components: systematic surveys done be trained trackers, and casual observations contributed by members of the general public. Contributing your sightings will help us learn where otters are living in the Mississippi Watershed and give us clues about their movement patterns and population dynamics, improving the quality of Park Service research and conservation efforts.

Please join us on iNaturalist to contribute sightings of otters, otter tracks or otter sign seen anywhere in the broader Twin Cities Metro Area.

Survey data available here on iNaturalist

Wisconsin Volunteer Carnivore Tracking Program

Members of the club take part in this long-standing citizen science program. One of our long term interests is to establish a sister program here in Minnesota to monitor wolf populations throughout the state. You can get more information at the Wisconsin Volunteer Carnivore Tracking Program website.

If you are interested in helping us build a volunteer network here in Minnesota, please contact us, and plan to join us at our monthly Tracking Club.