July 07, 2010

Back Again to Ellesmere for a New Challenge in 2010

We began our  2010 trip to Ellesmere on July 3 with colleague, Dan MacNulty, to try to examine the clusters of consecutive similar locations that might represent places where Brutus and pack made kills and then slept off their full stomachs.  Wolves can eat 22 lb (10 kg) at one session and then usually sleep nearby, although they sometimes travel a mile (1.6 km) or more away first. Thus chances are good that 2 similar 12-hr locations indicate kill sites and that the actual kill remains can be found close to at least some of these location clusters.  Travel to most of the widespread kill locations will require a helicopter, but there is one stationed at the Eureka Weather Station during summer to support various High Arctic research projects. We can reach a few of these sites on our all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

We had hoped to get all the way to Ellesmere on July 3, but our hopes were dashed when we reached the Inuit village of Resolute Bay, Nunavut and learned that the aircraft that was supposed to relay us to Ellesmere was being repaired. Thus we overnighted at Resolute.  We were awakened early the next morning and given 15 minutes to prepare to be shuttled to the airport where we waited 1.5 hr to catch our flight. We munched fruits, nuts and our leftover sandwiches for breakfast on the cargo plane that we hoped was now fixed. The only other passengers were two men headed to nearby Axel Heiberg Island to help service a research camp there. Because of the high cost of these flights ($12,000) we were happy to be able to split the cost with another project.

After flying over much of the Arctic Ocean and several of the Queen Elizabeth Islands and marveling at the ice fields, glaciers, sharp cliffs, and barren landscape, we reached Eureka about 11:30 a.m. on July 4th.  As we descended, we were pleased to spot a few herds of muskoxen. We spent the rest of the day organizing and preparing to head out on our ATVs to check out a few of the possible kill sites.


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