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Monday, January 29 • 1:40pm - 2:00pm
SYMPOSIA-01: Recruiting and Training Volunteers to Conduct Snow Track Surveys

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AUTHORS. Jane Wiedenhoeft, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT. Wisconsin DNR started a Volunteer Carnivore Tracking program in 1995. Since then, about 1500 people have been trained and participated in conducting snow track surveys in this program. Data collected by volunteers is combined with data from other sources to provide an annual minimum count of the state's wolf population and to map the distribution of wolves in the state. Initial recruitment targeted people who had exhibited an interest in wolves by attending a Wolf Ecology Workshop. Initial training consisted of a 2-day class on track identification skills and survey protocol. After 5 years, data collected by volunteers was compared to data collected by DNR trackers from the same areas. Both training and experience were identified as important components in ensuring that volunteer data was of similar quality as that collected by DNR trackers. For us, recruitment, training, and retainment are all important. Recruitment has been done through news releases, radio and television spots, attendance at special events, and word of mouth. Recruitment is not targeted at specific groups. It is sometimes targeted at geographical areas where we need more volunteers. Training has been expanded to include a wolf ecology & management class which provides a background in history, biology, ecology, and management of wolves in Wisconsin. Efforts have improved convenience of class attendance for volunteers, and we continue to adjust training content based on where we see a need for improvement. Trainings approved for the volunteer program are also provided by 2 cooperating NGOs. Although a network of volunteer coordinators provide some mentoring for new trackers, methods to provide additional mentoring opportunities are being considered.

Monday January 29, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm CST