July 11, 2008

Monday, July 7, 2008

Day 5

DAVE: Skunked! We found lots more places where the wolves are not, and we pretty well know now where they must be, but that is not good news. They appear to be way at the end of fiord, but how far across there we still don’t know. We checked all the hills above the ancient remains of a Thule village and ruled them out. Also found more evidence that the wolves have been coming from farther away than that area. It all leads across a creek and into the desert. Tomorrow we should be able to track them across the sand, and we can only hope they are not too far away. We’ve also revised the ages of the pups. They should be about 7 weeks old now because Mom was away from them at least 10 hours last night. Based on a publication I did in 1992, that indicates they are about 7 weeks old and getting close to weaning. Anyway, we are still having great fun, and tomorrow should indicate how easy or hard it will be to work with this pack.

Ellesmere Island is very dry. Wildlife tends to congregate in large thermal oases where sufficient water sustains the sparse vegetation that nourishes muskoxen, arctic hares and other animals. Although snow does accumulate during the long, dark arctic winter, it must not come too early in the autumn if healthy numbers of muskoxen and arctic hares are to survive. If the snow comes too early, it will cover the vegetation, and the muskoxen will not have enough to eat to build up the reserves they need to survive the bitter cold and depleted food supply in winter. This is life on the edge.

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