March 30, 2010

Back North, Visit Station, and Resume Usual Movements

Brutus and pack continued their northward trek to their usual area and stopped by the Eureka Weather Station on March 5th for about 36 hours. The staff counted at least 20 wolves at that time, including 8 that still appeared to be pups. This represents our highest count of pups. There could be more pups that were unseen or unidentified as pups, for at this time of year some pups will look like adults. Rai LeCotey, Station Manager reported “Half the pack (including Brutus) took off earlier today (I assume to go hunting). The rest of the pack (mostly pups) left later in the afternoon,” and Rai sent a few photos. The pack also visited the station again on March 10th, and Rai sent more photos. The pack then continued its usual movements around the Fosheim Peninsula of Ellesmere.

March 19, 2010

A Repeat --Sort of

As suspected, the pack did head south again, although nowhere near as far as on their January foray. Still, they seem to have accomplished what they probably set out to do, and that is to find more muskoxen and kill one or more. They spent 6 locations (2.5 days) basically in one spot (see close-up map) before starting on their long trek back to the northwest, covering 26.4 miles (42.2 km) straight-line distance in the 12 hr after they left their possible kill. Of course as they head back northward, they are also searching for muskoxen. Day in and day out, they search for food. After all, what else do they have to do anyway?

March 11, 2010

Heading South Again?

After making pretty extensive use of their recent range on the Fosheim Peninsula of Ellesmere and on eastern Axel Heiberg, the wolves may be heading on a new foray. At least, their Jan. 25 location in the lower right of the map certainly suggests another southeastward trek. On their earlier trek to and from the southeast, from January 19 to February 1 (see last few blogs), they seem to have made some kills in the new area. Time will tell if this is a repeat.


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.