Tracking Wolves in Winter on Ellesmere Island

Washington Post – Learning about the behavior of wild animals often requires hours and hours of personal observation. But what if the animal can’t be followed? That’s the problem David Mech (pronounced “Meech”) has had for much of his 50-year career studying wolves in the United States. “You can’t just go out and see a wolf,” he said, because they are endangered and afraid of humans. So Mech spent years capturing wolves, putting radio collars on them, then tracking their movements by airplane …

[Last summer, Mech] decided to use radio collars again, and he put one on the dominant male of the pack, named Brutus, who has worn the collar ever since. The result is the first-ever information on the habits of wolves living in the Arctic during the winter — when it is dark 24 hours a day and the temperature is routinely 20 or 30 degrees below zero. Brutus’s collar sends data to a satellite every 12 hours noting his location, and every four days, Mech gets an e-mail from the satellite service showing where Brutus has been. Mech is keeping a blog explaining the pack’s movements, which you can follow at the Wolves of the High Arctic Blog.

See also photo galleries: wolves and 2006 trip.

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