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North Pole wolf emails locations to researchers
Date:12/1/2009

innesota and Yellowstone National Park. Mech's life work on wolves has been instrumental in unraveling the little-known daily world of wolves. Ultimately, it has also helped resource managers better understand the complex nature of wolf ecology and management, including the challenging task of managing wolf-livestock interactions.

Brutus is an imposing 90-pound wolf, who sports a lionish ruff and that new satellite collar around his neck. Like all arctic wolves, Brutus is mostly white or light in color, and has long, coltish legs superbly suited for his long-distance jaunts and major hunting forays. And, says Mech, he's not afraid to keep his pack of at least 12 adults and 6-12 pups in line.

Brutus' collar collects and stores 2 locations per day, obtained via Global Positioning Satellites (GPS). Every 4 days the collar uploads the data to ARGOS satellites that email Brutus' location at a particular time and date to the researchers' computers. Unlike the VHF radio collar, which is still widely used to locate animals and birds, the GPS collar "listens" to the signal from a constellation of satellites and can calculate, by triangulating its own location, precisely where the animal is.

Since the researchers left Ellesmere, the wolf has "emailed" 145 locations to Mech and Cluff. So far, Brutus and his pack have covered an area of 740 square miles. And, said Mech, one day recently, Brutus traveled about 21 miles (straight-line distance) in no more than 12 hours. "He no doubt went around steep Blacktop Mountain, which would have required travel of much more than 21 miles, and all this in 12 hours max," explained Mech. "While not unheard of, this long travel is still impressive."

From their fieldwork, the men also know the pack preys almost exclusively on muskoxen and arctic hares, and that it has an unknown number of growing pups as well. An early hard winter, said Mech, could mean no hare and muskoxen reproduction next year, which would mean less wo
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Contact: Catherine Puckett
cpuckett@usgs.gov
352-264-3532
United States Geological Survey
Source:Eurekalert

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