6/6/2014 1:02:26 PM
The Wolf at the Door
The adventure continues for our two polar bear scientists...
After a couple of days out, our tally sits at seven polar bear captures, including one collar deployed. The collars are linked to satellites and provide six locations a day to us by e-mail. It's always an amazing event to see where the bears are. We plot up a map once a week and it gives us some critical insights into where the bears are and what they might be doing.
On the way in from the ice, we were cruising along the riverbed north of the Polar Bear Cabin when I spotted a wolf on the bank. The local herd of muskox, the closest we have to neighbors up here, had already circled to face off their biggest foe. As we flew past, we spotted four other wolves. We're in a national park so the rule is, "move along, nothing to see here." In reality, our next trip past suggested the wolves had indeed been successful.
Unbeknownst to me, Thea heard something outside in the middle of the night. Night is a bit of an odd term as we're now pretty much in 24 hours of daylight. Anyway, Thea didn't see anything so she jumped back into her bunk. The next day, we discovered the helicopter had been unplugged (we run a small generator to keep the battery and engine warm). Based on the abundance of tracks, a curious wolf had been checking us out and had decided that tugging on electrical cords was "interesting." No harm done.
Two days further along and during one of my many weather checks, I discovered a wolf just 10 feet from the cabin. It looked like a young female and she was decidedly curious about who or what we are. Looking at her looking at me, I can easily see how the first wolves came to be associated with humans. She also reminded me that I miss my golden retriever, Morley: the eyes of a wolf, however, are somewhat less reassuring than those of a golden.
Learn all about polar bears in Dr. Andrew Derocher's book: Polar Bears: A Complete Guide to Their Biology and Behavior (now on sale!).