Although our main interest for the past several days was trying to gather as much info as we could from around the den, Dan was also focused on getting as many data as he could from the Brutus location clusters. We could afford no more helicopter time, so the only method of obtaining more such data was to find and search clusters from the ground via the ATVs. This quest meant long, bumpy trips for only a few data. Nevertheless, Dean and Dan made 2 such ventures of 45 miles (75 km) and 57 miles (95 km) and found remains of possible kills during each. These trips squeezed out the last possible data from that work, and we were all satisfied that we had done all we could have to make the most of this year's expedition.
Our last night's observations around the den were routine. Only the short-tailed female was there with the pups, but the pups put on a great display of play and local travel, a gratifying end to a most successful research trip.
As we prepare to spend the next few days returning home, we are anxious to see the results of our future analyses. Was Brutus the father of the pups? Were both nursing females mothers of the pups we watched?
And a still lingering question is why Brutus starved last winter. Dean submitted organs and tissues, including those from Brutus' enlarged spleen, to a Veterinary Diagnostic Lab for a finer anaylsis.
As we learn the answers to these questions, we look forward to reporting them here.