After hearing that a pack of 10 wolves was spotted on Tuesday, we approached our observation point at 3:45 p.m. yesterday afternoon with great enthusiasm. And rightly so, for there as we approached we could see 2 wolves curled up sleeping, and soon discovered that there were 3 more nearby.
We had been hoping to help answer so many of our questions about these wolves by using a brand new approach for this area. Although many people elsewhere, including ourselves, have placed radio collars on wolves, we have never done that here. However, after 23 previous summers of just watching the wolves and learning so much from them, it was clear that any new breakthroughs here would require this new approach.
Thus when we found this pack of 5 wolves and saw that some came right up to us, we took the opportunity to dart one with a blowpipe and collar it. Deadeye Dean, an expert at this technique, got the dart exactly where he wanted it - right in the shoulder, and the wolf probably thought it was a big mosquito. In 5 minutes, the male wolf was sleeping peacefully and was oblivious to us weighing him (90 lb), estimating his age by tooth wear (8-10 yrs), and measuring him.
Both we and his pack mates watched him as he recovered from his unexpected "nap," and eventually he, sporting his new, very high-tech collar, led his pack mates back toward the den. None realized that this collar would be recording the male's location twice per day and sending the locations to our email every 4 days, hopefully for up to 2 years.
We then followed the male some 20 km back towards the den but lost him after he crossed a wide river and mud flats that we could not cross.
As we returned to camp, we were elated at how well this new venture had gone and began to look forward to when the location data would start coming to us.