The incredible long-distance travel by wolves continues to be a marvel of nature.
Through use of a GPS collar, national park researchers have been able to track the exact movements of a female wolf that made an incredible 450-kilometre journey once she left her pack.
“We’ve always known wolves can and often do fairly long dispersals, but it’s rare to capture this on GPS,” said Layla Neufeld, a wildlife biologist in Jasper National Park.
“There are records of wolves travelling more than 800 kms in a single dispersal, but still, this is quite an interesting story. The entire thing is remarkable.”
Dispersal is when a wolf leaves the pack in search of a mate or because there is too much competition for food in the existing pack.
If territory, mates and food are limited, wolves will push off to find their own territory. They can leave their pack at any age, although it is generally when they have reached sexual maturity.
Researchers caught the east-west journey of wolf number 81, an adult female of the 12-member Sunwapta pack, via GPS data.
Her incredible journey took place in 2008; however, the researchers did not get the information until recently when a trapper sent them her collar.
On April 2, 2008, the wolf travelled down the Whirlpool River and over Athabasca Pass in the footsteps of David Thompson; then she headed down the Wood River and over to Kinbasket Lake.
From there, she travelled north along the lake and skipped across Highway 5 south of Valemount. By April 11, she was at the Canoe River and spent 12 days in its upper headwaters.
Then on April 23, she headed southwest and entered Wells Gray Provincial Park via Argyle Creek. She continued to move west along Goat Creek and north along the shores of Hobson Lake.
Wolf 81 left Wells Gray on April 25 and followed the MacKay River up to the Horsefly River. She followed the Horsefly until Black Creek and then turned south.
When she got south of Moffat Creek, she headed southeast. She crossed the Canim River between Canim and Mahood lakes, and by April 29, was south of Sicily and Patricia lakes.
Still, this wolf kept going, and on April 30, she got to within 3km of Clearwater and decided to turn around.
She spent the rest of her life in this area until, sadly, she was killed by a trapper in February this year near Sheridan Lake in B.C.
Mark Hebblewhite, a recognized authority on wolves, said researchers are learning more and more that long-distance journeys like this are remarkable, but actually not that surprising.
He said a wolf collared in Glacier National Park in the 1990s traveled more than 700 kms straight-line distance to Dawson Creek B.C., where it was killed by a hunter.
In the last five years in the Jasper area and surrounding parts of B.C. and Alberta, he said more than a dozen wolves made similar travels.
Hebblewhite said one of the most important things to consider about such long distance journeys is how researchers find out.
“Almost every single wolf that disperses ends up killed by humans, through trapping or hunting, and occasionally, as roadkill,” he said.
“We find out about very few wolves that go on to live quiet, long lives, in part because they are no longer monitored through telemetry hundreds of kilometres away, but also in part because dispersal through human dominated landscapes is risky business.”
Hebblewhite said journeys such as these by wolves also highlight the importance of connectivity and keeping linkages functioning for species like wolves by maintaining corridors.
“This very day, there could be a wolf dispersing through the Canmore corridors from Banff to Yellowstone, and we would never know because the wolf passes through town overnight and is gone the next day,” he said.
“This, to me, is the most important lesson of long-distance dispersal like wolf 81. Not her movement in particular, but the reminder that every day, animals just like wolf 81 are trying to get around our towns dispersing and trying to find new places to live, often far away,” he added.
“That drives the important conservation message of keeping corridor connectivity around developed landscapes high,” said Hebblewhite.
Canuck Wolves Sentenced to Death in Idaho
Wolves in Idaho and Montana are on the American hit-list! These states are preparing to murder hundreds of wolves through hunting and other means, since recently being delisted from the Endangered Species Act.
These were originally Candian wolves, sent down to the U.S. to help restore ballance in nature and heal the ecosystem. Killing large numbers of these wolves will affect the Nothern Rockies and Greater Yellowstone area (within the Y2Y initiative). Wolves did return the wild to wilderness, but now because of the delisting US Fish and Wildlife plans to open up hunting season on wolves, killing hundreds, destroying families, and orphaning pups over harsh winter months.
Idaho will start shooting wolves September 1st, with Montana opening their season September 15th. Together, these states intend to kill about two thirds of the current population. THIS WILL DESTROY THE ECOLOGY THAT HAS JUST RECENTLY BEEN PUT BACK TOGETHER!!!
Reintroduction efforts of wolves into the US were well documented. Alaskan wolf culls are a major cause of concern for conservationists and those concerned with animal rights. WHY is there so little being said about the planned killing of wolves and their families where they have just restored ballance in nature? Without making the public aware, there is no opportunity for public outcry against this senseless act.
Defenders of Wildlife is sending their Legal Director Mike Senatore to court on September 1st to convince the federal judge to stop the planned hunts and replace it with the protection these wolves need.
donate to Defenders of Wildlife to help fight in court and continue this campaign
e-mail or phone the White House telling them to protect wolves, not hunt them! http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/