July 17, 2009

July 17, 2009 - Last Day

While waiting last night at our observation point for a wolf to come by so we could place our second tracking collar, we continued to scan across the fjord for wolves visiting the remains of the muskox kill from 3 days ago. After several hours, we finally spotted first one wolf and then a second heading away from the remains. They approached what, through the spotting scope (from a distance of 4 miles), appeared to be a large, dark rock with several white rocks lined up on either side. There were two wolves that kept hanging around the rock and moving back and forth behind it. We couldn't recall seeing a group of white rocks lined up along the shore quite like this, and we began wondering if they might also be wolves, although for quite some time none moved except the 2 behind the rock. Then suddenly when we took another look, one of the white rocks was gone!

That's when we began to see that the arrangement of the whole group of rocks was odd, unless the dark rock was a fresh muskox kill, and the cluster of white rocks was our wolf pack! That turned out to be the case, so we spent the rest of the evening watching at least 8 wolves, including the collared wolf, according to the signal. Unfortunately, a candidate wolf for our second collar never appeared near us, and we resigned ourselves to just having one collar out to follow for the next 2 years.

However, we took great satisfaction that we were getting excellent location data from our collared wolf and that the animal is the breeding male of this pack.These facts and what we will learn from them will warm us for the next 2 years as we check and plot the locations e-mailed to us, thus bringing us back to this remote study area and the great time we had.


  1. hi! My name is charly fox and my dream is to become a wolf biologist! I am absoloutly amazed by your work and I pray that sometime in the future I will get to study wolves. I have always wanted to study wolves in the arctic more then anyhing! You guys are my hero's! I know tha you have posted a blog and everything but I have a few questions. such as... What was it like while you wrer up there? why did you go into the acrtic to study wolves, was it scientific or have you always had a love for wolves?

    well thankyou for your time!
    p.s you can email me at leocool213@hotmail.com

  2. another thing... I have mistaken a wolf for a rock too before!

  3. Hello, Charly!

    Dave and Dean are continuing to wrap up their research for 2009. I am glad you are aspiring to be a wildlife biologist. Get the video documentary White Wolf and watch it for some background about the early years of the Ellesmere Island Arctic Wolf Research project. Read the following books: Mech, L. D. 1988. The Arctic Wolf: Living With the Pack, Voyageur Press, Stillwater, MN 128 pp. (English, French, German, Italian) and The Arctic Wolf: Ten Years with the Pack which includes a short updating through 1997 and some new photos. For latest update, see www.arctic.noaa.gov/essay_mech.html. The two books are out of print, but they can be purchased online through used book vendors.

  4. Charly! We have all mistaken rocks for wolves - and sea gulls, too! Thanks for sharing!