July 06, 2009

July 6, 2009

(Written the night of July 5th) Well, we struck it rich today! After lamenting an intermittent drizzle all day, we decided to try our luck at sitting out at one of the favorite spots where over the years we knew that wolves tend to come by. We started at 7:30 p.m. and sat for several hours straining our eyes at the gorgeous horizon and wiping the rain from our faces, planning to remain there probably till about midnight or so. It was too wet to read any books as we often do while waiting and watching, so to the pass the time we chatted about how lucky we were to be sitting here in this beautiful setting, about our jobs, about wolf behavior, etc.

Suddenly, about 10:50 p.m., Dean tilted his head and said, "Did you hear that?"

How could I have heard anything? Besides being hard of hearing to start with, I had a head band over my ears, a stocking cap over that, and the hood of my rain poncho over that. And it was raining! Nevertheless, Dean's much younger ears had no doubt picked up something of great worth. "A wolf!" he exclaimed. Or was it an old squaw duck that can sound similar from a long distance? But there it was again, Dean said, and he was certain it was a wolf, after he took off all his headgear. Four times the sound came to his eager ears. I still heard nothing, but never for a minute did I doubt his word.

Thus we peered at the distance with renewed enthusiasm, knowing that chances were excellent that at least one wolf would appear. From the long distance Dean had estimated the howl had come, we judged that it could take 30 to 60 minutes before the wolf, or wolves, would get there. However, as time went by and the horizon appeared the same, we began to wonder whether the wolves had perhaps taken a different route.

Then it happened! The image that we had been hoping to see -- a long white form picking its way over the distant hill -- caught our eyes. Immediately we knew it was a wolf. From the way it was looking back, we also knew to expect at least one more, and sure enough, about 150 meters behind appeared another one.

We watched intently as they approached, hoping we had positioned ourselves squarely along their route. Sure enough; within a few minutes, they came by. As we had hoped, they actually stopped and inspected us. We immediately saw that one was a nursing female, and the other no doubt was her mate.

We were elated that we were able to make such a valuable breakthrough on one of our first days out and what we might learn from this pair in the coming days.


To view more images, visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/intlwolfcenter/sets/72157621041610908/


  1. That's awesome! Were you able to see any prey in the time while you were watching for wolves as well? What a trip this is going to be - how could you start out any better!

  2. Shannon!

    That is a great question, and I will ask Dean and Dave right away. The primary prey of the wolves of the High Arctic are muskoxen. The big arctic hares make a nice, tasty snack, too. I will see if Dean and Dave have seen either of these prey species. Stay posted!