November 16, 2000

Animal Tracking Expert to Give Slide Lecture on Otter Creek Region

Public Invited to Attend Free Wildlife Event


MIDDLEBURY, Vt. Naturalist Susan Morse, director of the nonprofit organization Keeping Track, will give a slide lecture as part of an event focusing on wildlife habitat in the Otter Creek Swamp. The event, which will also include exhibits and displays, will take place from 7-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at the Salisbury Community School on Kelly Cross Road in Salisbury. It is free and open to the public.

The Otter Creek Audubon Society, the Vermont Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, and Middlebury College are co-hosting the event with the goal of starting community teams to monitor wildlife in the 15,000-acre Otter Creek Swamp. The swamp area extends from Florence to Middlebury and includes Brandon, Sudbury, Whiting, Leicester, Salisbury, and Cornwall.

The wildlife event will serve as an introduction to conservation biology and habitat monitoring for local citizens and offer community members the opportunity to join a local monitoring program. The public may also browse among extensive exhibits of animal track molds and a variety of signs indicating the presence of wildlife. Skins, skulls, feet, and other materials related to tracking and monitoring will be on display as well. Sample maps showing occurrences of wildlife sightings and activity will demonstrate the importance of wildlife travel corridors. Keeping Track’s staff will be available to answer questions.

Morse is a nationally recognized naturalist and habitat specialist with 30 years of experience tracking and interpreting wildlife uses of habitat. She will introduce participants to her organization’s methodology, stressing the importance of planning for wildlife conservation with regard to the landscape rather than town or county borders, which are meaningless to animals. Morse’s presentation includes a segment on carnivore biology and ecology as well. A question and answer session will follow her talk.

Based in Jericho, Keeping Track is dedicated to inspiring community participation in the long-term stewardship of wildlife habitat. The organization teaches adults and children to observe, interpret, record, and monitor evidence of wildlife in their communities, and supports the use of monitoring data by citizens in local and regional conservation planning. According to Keeping Track’s staff, data on wide-ranging mammals, such as the black bear, bobcat, and fisher provides a vital indicator of the ecological health of the landscape as a whole.

"A Keeping Track wildlife event gives everyone, especially families, an opportunity to enjoy an educational and inspiring evening. People with diverse interests and professions who enjoy the outdoors are encouraged to attend, including hikers, hunters, farmers, local businesspeople, teachers, nature enthusiasts, loggers, and skiers anyone with an interest in wildlife and the desire to learn more,” said Nan Jenks-Jay, Middlebury College director of environmental affairs and lecturer in environmental studies.

For more information, contact event organizer Ms. Barry King at 802-388-4082.