July 06, 2009

July 6, 2009 (Continued)

Editors' Note - A Blogger wrote to ask if the researchers have seen any prey species. This is an excellent question. At this time of year, the wolves must begin to feed regurgitated food to the fast-growing pups as weaning time approaches. This means the adults must be successful with their hunting in order to feed themselves and the youngsters. Wolves in this region on Ellesmere rely on muskoxen as their primary prey. Healthy adult muskoxen are difficult to catch and kill, so the wolves try to isolate a calf from the herd if they can. Even this is a tough job because the adult muskoxen form a protective circle around the young.They face outward with lethal horns that can kill a wolf or wound it seriously. Arctic hares make a good snack for adult wolves and a meal for a pup. The wolves become adept at catching them despite the hares' bursts of speed and evasive tactics.

Below is Dean's response.

Yes, we have seen some muskoxen and hares.
The first day we saw 4 groups of muskoxen (4, 11, 18, 4) totalling 37. One of the group of 4 was on the north side of the fiord (same side as the weather station) while the others were on the other side (which we can't get to).

Yesterday we saw 4 muskoxen (3+1) and we suspect they are the same ones from the group of 4 we saw on this side earlier. We've seen several hares throughout our travels and at various times of the day, but we see more when they are more active in the evening and night. I've seen one leveret (young-of-the-year hare) so far.


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