March 08, 2010

A Preliminary Look at Possible Kill Locations

The wolf pack has continued to travel within its usual range on the Fosheim Peninsula of Ellesmere Island and on nearby eastern Axel Heiberg. Meanwhile here is a preliminary estimate of the distribution of possible kills. We defined kill locations as any spot where the GPS location remained the same at least twice in a row, thus for at least 12 hr. In several cases, the locations were essentially the same as many as 5 times, and the wolves also revisited some of these locations daily or weeks later.

Our reasoning in judging these locations as indicative of kills was that when wolves kill a muskox, which weighs about 600 lb (273 kg), they would spend at least 12 hr feeding on it and sleeping nearby. Generally if wolves don't make a kill, they sleep for less than 12 hours. On the other hand, our technique probably misses kills of calves, especially in summer when a pack of 20 or more wolves could consume them and leave in less than 12 hr. Further refinements of our analysis will be required. Of course, next summer we will be checking as many possible kill locations as we can to try to find kill remains.

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