Being with Bears: A Deep Dive into Tracking Bear Behavior, Culture, and Sign

Start Date: July 26-28, 2024
Instructor: Meghan Walla-Murphy
Fee: $370.00 + meals and accommodations fees
Term: Summer 2024

Workshop Description

Come spend a weekend learning about black bears in California. As we explore their forested Sierra homeland, we will learn about their tracks, sign, and behavior. What do bears eat? How do they sense their world? What are their daily and yearly life cycles? We will also delve deeply into the relationship humans and bears have shared for thousands of years and discuss what it will take to re-member this mutually beneficial relationship with bears.  

Black bear
Meghan Walla-Murphy

Instructor Bio

Meghan Walla-Murphy has been able to combine her passions for wildlife tracking, writing and people into vocations of habitat conservation and public awareness. As an educator, wildlife ecologist and author of books, essays and articles, Meghan strives to help people connect to their external and internal landscapes. She has been tracking animals avidly for more than two decades, which adds a depth and breadth to her work in habitat connectivity and outreach. She is a lead of the North Bay Bear Collaborative ( She has also co-authored a book on tracking with carnivore biologist Dr. James Halfpenny as well as a book on the historical ecology of salmonids in the Russian River. Meghan has traveled extensively in the US, Brasil, the Congo, and Southern Africa to learn from diverse teachers who use tracking for research, land stewardship, and education. This seemingly esoteric, yet ancient art has given Meghan the skills to read a landscape and better understand ecology, which she then applies to help solve conservation and social justice challenges in her community. For more information or to contact Meghan please visit her

Workshop Details

Workshop Schedule

Plan to arrive on Friday around 3 or 4pm to get settled before dinner. Dinner is served at 6pm. 

Sharing and lecture after dinner on Friday.

Saturday will be a full day in the field.

Sunday we'll end by 2pm.

Workshop Supplies List

Participants should bring:

- Comfortable walking shoes

- Rain gear

- Walking sticks are not needed unless you feel more comfortable with them. We will be going off trail and wandering.

- Journal

- Something to write with

- Binoculars

And that is about it. 

Lodging and Camping Supplies

Camping gear if you are staying on campus:

  • tent and sleeping pad (unless you are staying in our tent with a cot provided)
  • warm sleeping bag
  • pillow, toiletries, and towel
  • flashlight and lantern
  • alarm clock

Field gear for everyone:

  • day pack
  • sunscreen
  • insect repellant
  • water bottles
  • plastic containers for packed lunches
  • sense of humor

You might also want to bring:

  • camera
  • binoculars
  • hand lens
  • camp chair


The weather in the Sierra Nevada can vary greatly, even in a single day. Be prepared for chilly temperatures at night, even below freezing early in the summer. Rain is a possibility any time, whether forecast or not. Variable weather clothing that can be layered is best: long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, warm sweater and jacket, t-shirt and shorts or skirt, sturdy shoes or hiking boots, sun hat, rain gear, and a warm hat or gloves for cold weather and/or night activities. And, if you come later in the season, bring your swimsuit for afternoon dips in the lakes!