July 10, 2009

July 10, 2009 - The Plot Thickens!

We began our monitoring for wolves at our observation point at 6:30 p.m. and sat there until 1:00 a.m., but no wolves came by. We spent much of those 6 1/2 hours speculating on what we had learned so far and pondering the puzzles. Of most interest is whether there are two breeding pairs in the area. We know that there are two potentially breeding males because both our collared wolf and the male from the pair we saw Sunday were raised-leg urinating. For breeding females, we suspect there are two based on appearance and behavior of the wolves we've seen. However, we will need to observe them again to be sure. Another big question is: how far and wide these wolves are moving? But we will have to wait for location data from the tracking collar. We had hoped to collar another wolf today but will have to wait for another day.

Dave & Dean

Editors' Note

The collared wolf is wearing a GPS/ARGOS collar. Unlike the VHF radio collar, which is still widely used to locate animals and birds, the Global Positioning Systems (GPS) collar "listens" to the signal from a satellite and can calculate (by triangulating its own location) precisely where the animal is. The data are stored in the collar. Those data include location, time, date and movement. With a GPS/ARGOS collar, the data are sent to another set of satellites (ARGOS) which then sends the data to a computer. The system can be set up to record information at intervals predetermined by the researchers. The ARGOS satellite system sends the data via e-mail, usually a couple of times a week. Dean and Dave said in their previous posting that the big male wolf's GPS/ARGOS collar will send data every 4 days.

It is possible, since tooth wear indicates the male is 8-10 years old (see July 9 Blog), that this is the wolf in the 2006 Ellesmere Blog that Dave and others called "Brutus." There is no way to know for sure, of course, but it's fun to speculate. Go to the 2006 Blog and see what you think!

A Blogger made the following comment just last night: "Will the collar transmit all through next winter? I remember the narrator (of the 1986 National Geographic documentary White Wolf) saying, 'What the wolves do during the long polar winter remains an arctic mystery.' Will this mystery be solved thanks to this one wolf wearing a (tracking) collar?" This is one of the questions Dave and Dean hope to answer, and this is why they hope to collar an additional wolf. The pups that are strong enough to travel with their parents and siblings of the current year and years past (those that have not dispersed to start families of their own) will hunt throughout the dark months. But where? How far will they go? Much can be learned since the "life" of this high-tech collar is about two years.

White Wolf is still available through online book sellers, and it can be ordered from the International Wolf Center Wolf Den Store.


  1. hgrathwohlJuly 10, 2009

    Just found this; fascinating. I'll be watching. I sent a little help for the research.

  2. THANK YOU from the Wolf Center AND from the wolves of the High Arctic for the help you sent! I am so glad you are finding the Blog interesting and that you plan to keep following Dave and Dean.