July 03, 2009

July 3rd, 2009

Well, it's time. All the preparation, the anticipation, and the waiting are over. Dave arrived in Yellowknife last night. This morning we went over the equipment, finalized a few details this afternoon, and now we're ready. In a couple of hours we board the plane to Eureka. There's a fuel stop in Resolute on Cornwallis Island. I checked the weather just now. Not great. It's 1 degree Celcius (30 degrees Fahrenheit) there with a band of rain showers passing right through Resolute. It's a bit better in Eureka. It's 4 degrees Celcius there (39 degrees Fahrenheit) and mostly cloudy. Conditions are forecasted to improve slightly, so we're optimistic. Here we go. In a few hours, we'll set foot in a very different land. Let the adventure begin!


1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    I was wondering, if you don't use radio collars, how do you find a pack of wolves in a place as big as where you are?
    Do you just travel around the wolves territory looking for signs?
    Mia Werger

    ANSWER: Another great question. VHF radio collars are extremely useful, The wolf wears a transmitter, and the researcher locates the animal using a receiver and an antenna, either held in the hand or mounted on the wings of an aircraft. This is neither practical nor possible in a region so remote and with weather so harsh most of the year. Additionally, the short summer is over by late August, and it is impossible to get around by foot or by ATV until late June. Much of Ellesmere Island does not support large carnivores like wolves or herbivores like muskoxen. It is an arctic desert, and some regions of this huge landscape are locked in ice. There are formidable mountain ranges and bleak areas of rock. But here and there are thermal oases, areas that receive enough moisture to nourish the shallow-rooted plants that feed muskoxen, the primary prey of the wolves. The wide expanses of landscape around the tiny weather station at Eureka on Ellesmere are home to wolves, muskoxen, arctic hares and other animals. Dave Mech found a den site some 23 years ago where he studied wolf packs each summer. Sometimes the wolves come into the weather station. They are not afraid of people because in this region, they have never been subjected to the persecution of their relatives to the south. They are curious about people, and some will approach and come close. Since 2006, the wolves in the area have not used the Rock Den (see the 2006 Blog). So finding them has been a huge challenge. Read the 2008 Blog, and you will readily see what a task it was to locate them! The GPS/ARGOS collars have a VHF transmitter in them. Thus, Dave and Dean will be able to pick up a radio signal from any wolves they collar IF they can get within range. With the data from ARGOS, this may be possible.