Participants will be accompanied by professional guides to remote locations where they will spend the weekend looking for animal tracks. Parties will depart from Helena on Friday morning and return late Sunday afternoon. Transportation, showshoes, food, and lodging will be provided. Individuals are responsible for bringing all other gear including appropriate clothing and footwear, as well as a daypack. They are encouraged to keep in mind that weather conditions can change quickly, and to plan accordingly. Activity levels are moderate to arduous.
These tracking efforts are part of an ongoing partnership between the Helena National Forest, Montana Discovery Foundation and Fort Harrison, where veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder have been helping to collect valuable field data while taking steps toward recovery. Grant money has been allocated to employ Adventures & Scientists for Conservation, a company based in Bozeman that’s dedicated to gathering otherwise hard-to-attain scientific data for its use in conservation management. The veterans are transported via snowmobile and snowshoe to high country to document animal tracks, with particular interest in lynx and wolverine. That information is used to help biologists understand the distribution of animals, particularly rare carnivores, on the forest.
“Winter tracking is a tool used to acquire reliable data, and occurs during a time when we are constrained by resources and staffing,” said Denise Pengeroth, Helena National Forest Wildlife Biologist, while emphasizing the benefits of the partnership. “We have the utmost respect for the men and women who have served our country, and are happy to have the opportunity to work with them.”