July 09, 2009

July 9, 2009 Exciting news!

After hearing that a pack of 10 wolves was spotted on Tuesday, we approached our observation point at 3:45 p.m. yesterday afternoon with great enthusiasm. And rightly so, for there as we approached we could see 2 wolves curled up sleeping, and soon discovered that there were 3 more nearby.

We had been hoping to help answer so many of our questions about these wolves by using a brand new approach for this area. Although many people elsewhere, including ourselves, have placed radio collars on wolves, we have never done that here. However, after 23 previous summers of just watching the wolves and learning so much from them, it was clear that any new breakthroughs here would require this new approach.

Thus when we found this pack of 5 wolves and saw that some came right up to us, we took the opportunity to dart one with a blowpipe and collar it. Deadeye Dean, an expert at this technique, got the dart exactly where he wanted it - right in the shoulder, and the wolf probably thought it was a big mosquito. In 5 minutes, the male wolf was sleeping peacefully and was oblivious to us weighing him (90 lb), estimating his age by tooth wear (8-10 yrs), and measuring him.

Both we and his pack mates watched him as he recovered from his unexpected "nap," and eventually he, sporting his new, very high-tech collar, led his pack mates back toward the den. None realized that this collar would be recording the male's location twice per day and sending the locations to our email every 4 days, hopefully for up to 2 years.

We then followed the male some 20 km back towards the den but lost him after he crossed a wide river and mud flats that we could not cross.

As we returned to camp, we were elated at how well this new venture had gone and began to look forward to when the location data would start coming to us.



  1. Twenty years ago I bought the fascinating National Geographic video and book about the 1986 and 1987 Ellesmere trips by Dave Mech and Jim Brandenburg. I had no idea that the trips had continued all these years until I followed a link from the IWC to this page.

    Will the radio collar transmit all through next winter? I remember the narrator of the video 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 radio collar?

  2. Just found this blog and it's amazing! I shall be following your exploits and looking forward to new reports.

    It must feel so humbling to get so close to such amazing creatures!

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  4. Ernie, your questions are terrific. I have answered directly on the Blog posting for today in our Editors' Notes. Thank you for giving us a chance to promote White Wolf. We agree - it is a memorable documentary and will give viewers an opportunity to experience the landscape. Thank you so much.

    Lady D., Thanks to YOU for such encouraging comments. Please keep your observations coming and ask any and all questions! Dave and Dean will read your comments, and knowing that people find their work interesting and their reports of value makes the research just that much more worth doing. I will comment directly on the Blog about why it is possible to get so close to these particular wolves in this region. They have never been persecuted here or hunted, and they are calmly curious about humans - and unafraid.