Glacier’s Carnivore Week
Instructor: Brad Bulin
June 14 at 7 a.m. – June 18 at 4 p.m.
Glacier National Park is spectacular for many reasons – including the ecology of its many carnivores, large and small. Which carnivores are in Glacier? What are they eating? How do they utilize the landscape? Through lectures and day hikes on the west side of the park, as well as in the North Fork Valley, we will examine Glacier’s finely-tuned carnivores and how they interact with their surroundings. This class is an intensive, on-site overview of carnivores in the park led by a carnivore expert and author!
Meeting Place: Glacier Institute Field Camp.
Itinerary: (subject to change due to trail closures and weather)
Day 1: An Ecosystem View
We will meet at 7 a.m. at Field Camp, followed by introductions and an orientation/course overview. We will discuss the different types of methodology in the study of carnivores, as well as their niche in the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem. We will have lunch at Field Camp before departing for the Huckleberry Lookout trail. In the afternoon, we will discuss the family Ursidae, diving into their ecology and how to look for bear signs along the trail. We will return to Field Camp for dinner at 6 p.m. After dinner, we will have an evening presentation covering grizzlies and corridor ecology.
Day 2: Bears
Breakfast will be at 6 a.m. We will then depart for Firebrand Pass to discuss bear-human interactions. We will have lunch in the field, before returning to Field Camp for mid-day activities. After lunch we will go over the various methods of capturing carnivores on camera. Dinner will be at 6 p.m., followed by an evening presentation entitled, “The Secret Lives of Mountain Lions.”
Day 3: Cougars & Rare Carnivores
Breakfast will be at 6 a.m. followed by an introduction to the rare carnivores of Glacier, the seldom-seen lynx and wolverine. We will then depart for the Two Medicine Valley to observe prime wolverine habitat in the alpine. Lunch will be in the field, before continuing down the trail to discuss lynx ecology and predator-prey cycles. We will discuss scat, tracks, and signs to look for along the trail. Dinner will be served at 6 p.m., followed by an evening display of carnivore pelts, tracks, scat, and skulls.
Day 4: Wolves
Breakfast will be at 6 a.m. Next we will depart for the North Fork Valley, where we will take a short hike to discuss the wolf-elk relationships and how their interactions affect the surrounding ecosystems. Lunch will be in the field, before continuing the discussion on wolf ecology. We will arrive back to Field Camp for dinner at 6 p.m., followed by an evening presentation highlighting wolf evolution.
Day 5: Lesser-Known Carnivores
Breakfast will be at 6 a.m. We will then take a short hike to retrieve our previously placed game camera. Next, we will discuss the lesser-known carnivores, their habitats, morphological characteristics, and diet. We will have lunch at Field Camp, followed by a viewing of pelts, tracks, skulls, and scat of these lesser-known carnivores. The group will also analyze the game camera footage. The course will then wrap-up with a discussion on the big ideas from the week and conclude at 4 p.m.
Food: The following meals are included: Lunch on Day 1 through lunch on Day 5.
Accommodations: Four nights of lodging are included with the course fee. Our student cabins are basic, hostel-style cabins with 5 single beds, bedside lights, and electrical outlets. Students should be prepared to share a cabin with up to 4 other people, cabins are separated by gender. Couples may be paired up in the event there is ample space. We provide a bottom sheet for your bed as well as a pillow and pillow case, but please bring a warm sleeping bag. Be sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp for night trips to the bathroom.
Park Entrance Fees: Participants are responsible for purchasing their park entry passes prior to the course. These can be purchased online at: https://www.recreation.gov/sitepass/74280.
Equipment: You will receive a Field Camp gear list once you register. Most importantly are comfortable hiking shoes, at least 1-2 liter water bottle, backpack, rain gear, hat, and sunscreen. Weather can be varied so please be prepared with appropriate clothing, and extra warm layers. Binoculars and spotting scopes are recommended for spotting wildlife, as well as any field guide books on mammals or tracking.
Physical Requirements: Moderate difficulty. Hikes will be up to a total of 5 miles each day with up to 1,000 feet of elevation changes.
Academic Credit: Please see our ‘2021 Academic Credit’ link on our website to learn about OPI credit and FVCC and UM credit for our courses.