July 15, 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

DAY 13

Dean: We got a late start yesterday because of the poor weather. It snowed on and off throughout the day. It's a wet snow, so it's not permanent on the ground but visible on the hills and higher elevation areas. Visibility is down to about a mile, so there was no point trying to watch for wolves across the river, We mapped out the bearings from our observation spot on the river, and the suspected den is 2.5 miles away from that vantage point. However, we decided not to cross the river because we'd likely only get bogged down in the mud flats. The weather station manager told us that one of the station staff saw three polar bears at the mouth of the fiord in the morning. I suspect they were a family group. Apparently all three bears were similar in size, so likely a mother bear and her two-year-old cubs. We're inland about 6 miles, so those bears will likely stay out on the sea ice. We also heard that a wolf was sighted around the airstrip early in the morning. We didn't get out that way until evening. We wanted to conduct some behavioral observations on any incoming wolves to the area near the weather station and our base camp, but saw none last night. We haven't seen the breeding pair for a few days now, so we are hoping that tonight, Tuesday, brings us better luck.

Dean's career as a wildlife biologist includes years of studying polar bears as well as wolves and caribou. The poor visibility is frustrating even though the researchers know that weather is one factor no one can control.

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