Amber Eyes

Mike Oxley

Cornwall Ontario, Canada

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Parc Omega, Montebello, Quebec, Canada

Bubble Meet, August 9, 2011

We got to the park quite early and arrived at the Arctic Wolf area not long after. We got out of our cars and were able to get right up to the edge of the compound where the wolves were watching us with kind of an amused tolerance and were completely ignoring a couple of the Parc’s employees who were trimming back the underbrush close by.

What a privilege to see these marvellous animals!

With thanks to Wikipedia

The Arctic Wolf (Canis lupus arctos), also called Polar Wolf or White Wolf, is a species of mammal of the family Canidae, and a subspecies of the Gray Wolf. Arctic Wolves inhabit the Canadian Arctic, Alaska and the northern parts of Greenland.

Habitat and distribution

The Arctic Wolf inhabits the northern part of Greenland, the Canadian Arctic and parts of Alaska. They have lived in North America for more than two million years. When they find a den, they make a couple of chambers for food and young. Arctic wolves live on the islands of the Canadian Arctic, and the north coast of Greenland, roughly north of 70° North latitude. The Arctic Wolf is the only subspecies of the Gray Wolf that still can be found over the whole of its original range, largely because, in their natural habitat, they rarely encounter humans.

Their habitat is extremely harsh and remote, and few scientists venture into that world during the long, dark winter – even the vast majority of Inuit live further south than the Arctic wolf. As a result, the details of their lives through much of the year are virtually unknown.

Behavior

The Arctic Wolf can withstand the arctic weather. They can survive in sub-zero temperatures for years, in absolute darkness for five months per year, and without food for weeks. Arctic Wolves usually travel in packs of 2 to 20. They live in small family groups: a breeding pair (alpha male and female) and their pups. The pack works together to feed and care for their pups. Lone Arctic Wolves are young males that have left their pack to seek their own territories. They avoid other wolves, unless they are able to mate. Having found an abandoned territory, a lone Arctic Wolf will claim it by marking the territory with its scent, then gather other lone wolves into its pack. When the female is pregnant, she leaves the pack to dig a den to raise her pups. If the ice is too thick, she will move to a den or cave.

Hunting

Like all wolves, Arctic Wolves hunt in packs, preying mainly on caribou and muskoxen, but also arctic hares, seals, ptarmigan and lemmings, and smaller animals such as waterfowl. To eat rodents they must pick up their scent and find the entrance to their tiny dens to flush them out. Wolves almost never attack humans. Due to the scarcity of prey, they roam large areas, up to 2,600 km2 (1,000 sq mi), and follow migrating caribou south during the winter. They are not fast runners, instead relying on stamina to take down prey.
Adult wolves have 42 teeth, their main weapon in hunting. They swallow food in large chunks, barely chewing it. They eat all of their prey, including the bones. Wolves can eat up to 20 pounds (9 kg) of meat at one meal. When they return from the hunt, wolves regurgitate some of the food for the hungry pups.

Reproduction

Due to the Arctic’s permafrost soil and the difficulty it poses for digging dens, Arctic Wolves often use rock outcroppings, caves or even shallow depressions as dens instead. After gestation of about 63 days to 75 days, birth is in late May to early June, about a month later than Gray Wolves. The mother gives birth to 2 or 3 pups, though there may be as many as 12. This is fewer pups than Gray Wolves, which have four to five. It is generally thought that the lower number is due to the scarcity of prey in the Arctic. Pups are born blind and deaf, and weigh about one pound. They are dependent on their mother for food and protection. When they are three weeks old, they are allowed outside the den. Other wolves in the pack may take care of the mother’s pups until she returns with food.

Sony Alpha 700, Sigma 170 to 500 at 500 mm
iso 400, spot metered, Aperture Priority F10.0, 1/640 second
Tripod

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