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Signs of Wildlife Hike (JHARVNC)

TopicOutdoor Skills - Identification
Wildlife - General
Summary
Participants will go on a scavenger hunt or hike (depending on age) to find signs of wildlife such as tracks, scat or markings. They’ll also learn to identify evidence of local wildlife.

Grade LevelK - 12
Recommended SettingOak Savannah Trail or Field and Forest Trail
LocationJanet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center, Fort Smith
Contact

Education Program Coordinator, 479-452-3993

Duration45 - 60 minutes
Suggested Number of Participants15 - 30
Objectives
  • Experience the outdoors
  • Experience first-hand the different habitat areas and evidence of wildlife, including animal tracks, scat and markings
  • Gain awareness of the wildlife habitats within a relatively small area
  • Discuss each habitat area’s necessities of life 

 

Key Terms*

Field

Food

Forest

Habitat

Lake

Markings

Scat

Shelter

Track

Water

Wetland

 

Materials

Track and scat replicas

Background
Most Popular Trails for Groups
  • Oak Savanna Trail – An oak savanna is a community of scattered oak trees above a layer of prairie grasses and forbs. The savanna is a transition ecosystem between the tall grass prairie and woodlands, so it is an important habitat for woodland and prairie animals, plant and insect species. Discuss the importance of this type of environment, habitat areas, animals, plants (native and invasive) and ways to look for evidence of wildlife.
  • Field and Forest Trail – Open fields are the remains of what used to be farmland. Contrast this with the young oak hickory forest that contains typically slow-growing species adapted for the dryer lands. The overall theme of this hike is to look at the habitats of the Field and Forest Trail and the changes within the diverse regions of this hike. The ecosystem on this trail is full of wildlife.
Procedure
  1. Assemble participants at trailhead area. Give safety instructions and introduce what participants are to be looking for (markings, tracks, scat). Assign someone to bring up the rear.
  2. Stop at points of interest to discuss animals living in an area, necessities of life found there, differences in habitats, native versus invasive species, etc.
  3. Introduce new information
    • Signs of wildlife
      • Scat
        • Evidence of food eaten
        • Evidence of predator/prey relationships
      • Animal tracks
        • Commonly seen tracks and locations
        • Tracks show animal behavior
      • Markings
      • Nests
  4. At the end, review wildlife evidence seen and talked about on the trail. Remind participants that conservation is crucial in order to keep these species alive and thriving.

 

Modifications
  • Groups may carry field guides or keys and identify specimens found along the trail.
  • At some point along the trail, the group will be asked to stop and stay still with eyes closed and seated, listening to every sound. Identify sounds and share with the group.

 

Review
  • What are ways of observing signs of wildlife in Arkansas?
  • Why is it important to carefully survey the environment around you? How can we monitor the health of wildlife? What is the food chain?
  • Review different habitat areas seen on the hike.
Related Documents
Glossary

Field – A broad, level, open expanse of land

Food – material made of protein, carbohydrate and fat which an organism assimilates to produce energy, repair tissue, stimulate growth and maintain life

Forest – an ecosystem or group of ecosystems dominated by a dense growth of trees and woody vegetation

Habitat – an arrangement of food, water, shelter or cover, and space suitable to animals’ needs

Lake – a large inland body of fresh or salt water

Markings – the characteristic color pattern of a plant or animal

Scat – an animal’s fecal droppings, especially a wild animal

Shelter (wildlife) – protection, cover, refuge or safety

Track – a footprint of wildlife

Water – clear, colorless, odorless and tasteless liquid; H2O, essential for most plant and animal life and the most widely used of all solvents

Wetland – lowland area, such as a marsh or swamp that is saturated with moisture, especially when regarded as a wildlife natural habitat