It was one of the last weekends in summer before fall classes start, and I was looking forward to heading into the mountains for a short backpacking trip. When I found out that I could join an ASC group heading to the Centennials to look for signs of grizzlies using the area, I was thrilled. On Friday we made the beautiful drive southwest of Bozeman to our campsite where we slept with the tail end of the Perseid meteor shower blazing above us. The next morning we learned to recognize grizzly tracks and hairs and to distinguish them from those of black bears. We spent the remainder of the weekend hiking the trails and fence lines of the western Centennials on the lookout for grizzly signs. We were rewarded with several DNA samples which will be sent to a lab for analysis, not to mention phenomenal scenery and glimpses of a wide array of wildlife.
With a lesson in tracking and the opportunity to meet some amazing new people, the weekend ended up being much more than a simple camping trip. A day spent hiking can also go a long way towards conservation. ASC certainly met their goal of inspiring “recreational outdoor users to effectively use their time in the wild to advance conservation science.”