Friday, August 2, 2013

"The Timber Wolves Will Be Our Friends...."

"The Timber Wolves will be our friends,
We'll stay up late and howl,
At the moon 'til nighttime ends,
Before going on the prowl."

-Bill Watterson (creator of Calvin and Hobbes)

The Wolf project has been going well this summer.  My students have seen some incredible stuff while out conducting the field work.  They've also picked up some great video clips.

Below is  recent example....

This is such a nice bit of video footage.  Not only does it give a perfect glimpse of the Wolf, it gives a clear look at how the tail is held.  Note how straight that tail is out behind the body....not drooping down at all, as one might expect from a Coyote. 

The little poem by Bill Watterson at the top is sort of silly, but still great.  It simply, yet eloquently encapsulates how one should feel about seeing a critter like a wolf.  As a wildlife biologist, few other species embody that visceral feeling of "wilderness" as do the Wolf and (for me) the Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus).

Enjoy!  My students have worked hard all summer for clips like this!


  1. Wow! That is some great video.

  2. Are your students aware of just how FORTUNATE they are for being able to watch such a wild and impressive animal as the wolf? As a similarly "majored" student as your students, I am VERY envious of this clip. VERY. The most glamorous I can hope for is a black bear, which has only happened once for me personally, or one of the canids or mustelids. Or a predator/prey interaction caught on camera. Please tell them that they have an audience hundreds of miles away that is SUPER jealous!

    1.'ve gotten to see alot of cool stuff too (handling the bears, camera pics of bobcats and fishers, working in Alaska, etc.). Plus, you don't need to live where you currently are for the rest of your life. In fact, to find a job you may have to move somewhere else. Who knows where you'll end up and what sort of cool stuff you'll see!

      These students have put in some serious time for this project. During the summer, they've added howl surveys to the camera trapping stuff for wolves, which they started in the winter. So, every other week, they drive about 5 hours north. They stay in a tent for four days/three nights....sweating, getting eaten alive by bugs....going until 5 am to their survey sites. BUT...they see have experienced some great stuff, seen some incredible stuff.

      You'll have to ask them about it! They'll be at The Wildlife Society Conference in October!

    2. You are correct that I have seen and done some pretty neat things, but the wolves are just something that's totally out of my realm!!! (right now) I've seen them twice- once wild captive red wolves in NC, and a gray in Denali. They are just such an impressive animal! I look forward to meeting up with your group this fall.

  3. Wow-so cool. I would have loved to be able to take part in a study like this when I was an undergraduate.

    1. Thanks, Dave!! I would have loved this research project as an undergraduate too. I was fortunate enough to have had a great undergraduate research mentor, so I still got to do some fun stuff (learned alot). My experience as an undergraduate firmly ensconced the importance of undergraduate research as part of one's bachelor's degree. of my main goals as a mentor of undergrads is to make sure they are as well prepared for graduate school or the professional scene as possible. The theoretical stuff is absolutely important, but if they can't do the applied....they've got a hard row to hoe once they get into the real world.

  4. Wow, that was incredible to see! Your students are very lucky to have such an amazing experience. I was pleasantly surprised to see how plentiful wolf sign was in MN and how nobody was taking fits about the wolves. The wolves were simply part of the natural world. Some Rocky Mountain states could learn from them.

    Thanks for sharing the great video!