Track Scene Investigation

Footprint Identification

The premiere service TSI provides is footprint identification. Working from your evidence (casts, photographs, drawings) or evidence we collect in the field for you, we will compare to our databases and reference collections to assemble a report.

The report will evaluate the quality of evidence for use in identification, and compare evidence to species-specific criteria we have defined. Photographs or casts may be annotated to illustrate criteria. The report will list criteria with a discussion of each as to its appropriateness and importance in making species determinations. Following final identification we rate the probability of correctness.

To further elucidate species identifications and provide reference comparisons, we can also provide casts of known species and databases showing multiple points of measurement for footprints. These casts and databases facilitate understanding interpreting your evidence and its identification.

Where the evidence is adequate, TSI may also provide gait identification and interpretation. Gait interpretation facilitates understanding animal behavior at the track scene and helps in "reading" the complete story - the gestalt of the track scene.

TSI may also help with interpretation of behavior and ecology. Gait, behavior and ecological interpretation requires additional information above and beyond that provided for print identification.

Scene Investigation

Investigators are available to travel in order to track scenes and collect evidence for interpretation. Having our trained investigators on the scene may reveal evidence that would have been missed. Regional investigators may make an initial track scene assessment and gather evidence. The regional investigator may recommend additional on-site consultation from Dr. Halfpenny.

Email and Snail Mail

Evidence may be submitted via email to trackdoctor@tracknature.com. Please go to the Evidence tab above and check out guidelines under the Submissions subtopic.  All snail mail submissions should be addressed to Jim Halfpenny, P.O. Box 989, Gardiner, MT 59030.


Dr. Halfpenny is available for consulting in situations including neighborhood animal watches, teaching programs, literature development, animal surveys, project design, research interpretation, animal depredation, insurance investigations, and other topics. Jim can travel to sites for consultation.


TSI provides a variety of basic and advanced, professional-level workshops for private individuals, non-profit organizations, environmental consults, and state and federal agencies. Workshops are typically one or two days in length but may be as long as four days. Workshops are taught both in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and at your own locations. Workshops need not have a field area but may be taught inside, even in big cities. Sand box exercises are used for some workshops.

Topics include Basic and Advanced Mammal Tracking, Bird tracking, Mammal Signs, Snow Tracking Rare Species, Cougar Ecology and Verification, Wolf Ecology and Verification, species-specific (bears, canids, cats, cougars, mustelids, etc.).

All workshops are professional-level and may be taught for college credit.  Certificates of Completion are provided.  See workshop examples and information below. 

Sponsoring individuals or organizations may offer workshops that are either free or for-profit making ventures. In some cases, sponsors pay all fees and provide the workshop as a service. In other cases, fees charged of participants pay for all costs and make a profit for the sponsor.

TSI will help with advertising by providing advertising blurbs, posters, mailers, and press photographs (click on Halfpenny.me for more information). Dr. Halfpenny is available for consultation with reporters before the event.

Click icon to view full sized photo

Mammal Tracking: Learning the Basics

Professional-level course for anyone interested in reading the stories left along the trail, be the trail in an urban or wilderness setting. While taught at a professional level this course is for the person who is just starting tracking, whether that person is law enforcement, naturalist, wildlife manager, or simply interested. The course will cover the basic must-knows needed by anyone wishing to do quality tracking. Topics include:

locating mammals
finding tracks and sign
identifying footprints
determining sex and size of animals
ageing tracks
understanding gaits
reading stories in trails
photographing footprints
casting footprints in soil and snow

Improve your knowledge about mammals and their behavior by becoming proficient as a tracker.

This class is a field class and can only be taught at field locations. Our Premiere field location is Yellowstone National Park and we encourage all to journey to the headquarters of A Naturalist's World for a workshop at the Track Education Seminar.

Prerequisite for Advanced Tracking which is taught twice per summer.

Click icon to view full sized photo

Snow Tracking Rare Species

Professional-level course for naturalists, ecologists, educators, managers and outdoor enthusiasts. Workshop is designed for locating rare species; whatever may be rare in your area including wolves, marten, fisher, wolverine, bobcat, lynx, cougars or bears. Topics include:

locating rare species
finding tracks and sign
identifying footprints
proving presence of a species
ageing tracks
understanding gaits
reading stories in trails
photographing tracks
interpreting photographs
casting footprints in snow and soil

Course focuses on collecting quality evidence that will hold up in court if necessary.

This course may be taught in the field or in urban settings where sand box exercises will be held. If taught in the field, there are both inside lecture and outside field exercises. The best time is during the snow season so that graduates may use skills to search for rare species.

Click icon to view full sized photo


Cougar, Mountain Lion, Puma, Painter, Panther, Catamount: all the same

Secretive, elusive, the creature of myths and rumors, and capable of killing people, cougars stir our imagination, curiosity, and fear. Improve your knowledge about cougars, their presence, dangers, and management. Jim will also cover cougar ecology and how cougars interact at the human interface. If you are interested or face any of situations below, then this is the workshop for you.

Population biology, Behavior and Ecology
Cougar / Human Interactions
Cougar Pet Trade
Locating tracks and signs on the trail
Identifying footprints and Verifying presence
Collecting quality evidence
Determining sex and size of animals
Gaits and reading stories

This workshop will provide the knowledge and skills needed to accurately identify and document signs of cougars, dogs, lynx, wolves, and other rare carnivores.

You won't leave empty handed either but with extensive handouts and plaster casts of carnivore footprints you make during the laboratories. Also Jim will have his books and plastic carnivore footprint collections for sale.


Our calendar fills fast and we appreciate lead time in planning events. Certain times of the year are regularly committed to existing programs, sometime over a couple of years ahead of time. Dr. Halfpenny is often in the field (as often as he can get away with), necessitating additional lead time.

Please contact us through A Naturalist's World, (406) 848-9458, P.O. Box 989, Gardiner, MT 59030. You may also check out products and programs at our sales and registration site Tracknature.com.