Presenter Gordon Buchanan
Series Producer Ted Oakes
Producer Anwar Mamon
Director Anwar Mamon
Assistant Producer Patrick Evans
Gordon Buchanan traveled to Ellesmere Island in Canada to find a pack of Wolves that have never encountered Humans. He knew there was a pack in the area as another scientist had observed their presence.
Gordon has previously made similar programs about American Black Bears and Polar Bears. I enjoyed both those programs. I still keep up to date with the American Bear project, though sadly nothing has been heard of our Polar Bear family since just after the program aired.
It is a harsh environment, so far North the sun sets in October and doesn’t rise again for four months. Similarly when Spring comes Summer is in complete daylight. It gets to minus 50 in winter and the Wolves are adapted for this land with their thick white fur.
There are a few spoilers in my comments below, not too strong but if you haven’t watched the show yet I’d encourage you to watch by clicking on the picture below. My comments are not all in the same sequence as the show.
Camping separately to the crew, who camped around half a mile away, so that the Wolves might come closer Gordon put up am electric fence around his tent.
The pack consists of six adults, led by a breeding pair that Gordon named Romulus and Luna. There were indications that Luna had whelped and that the den was close by. Using a number of methods, including cameras mounted on a remote control car it was determined there were three pups in the den.
He has a perfect view from his tent of the hillside the Wolves had their den. Similarly he was in full sight of the Wolves. Several times they made their way over to his camp to look at him. He also went close to the Wolves.
He used reassuring submissive noises when approaching Luna, she allowed him to get close but not too close. However when one of the yearlings, Scruffy, stole his stool from his campsite he used howls as he attempted to recover the stool. Gordon was concerned that if he allowed Scruffy to get away with the theft his camp would be considered fair game. Interestingly the attempted howls worked, Scruffy abandoned the stool and investigated Gordon. He also found that not actively watching them when he performed daily tasks, such as drinking from a stream, instead he let them watch him.
This landscape is ideal for this project as in most other areas where Arctic Wolves might be found they like in dense forests. Finding and filming Wolves in that environment would pose many difficulties. However in the Summer on Ellesmere Island the white Wolves stand out against the terrain.
The Wolves are at the top of the food chain here. Other wildlife nearby includes Skuas, Arctic Hares, Arctic Foxes and Musk Ox. Musk Ox and Wolves survived the last Ice Age and the Musk Ox was designed to withstand predators such as the Sabre-tooth Cat. The pack hunts at least twice a day, Luna usually returning before the rest of the pack to feed the pups.
As with all environments the balance here is delicate. The pack must get her enough food to keep Luna fed so that the pups have the best chance in life. This means they must at times take on Musk Ox. Wolves don’t always eat everything from a large prey, they bury some for when the pickings are leaner.
At the end of this episode the pack has been away for longer than any other day Gordon has observed them. They were alone for at least 12 hours, Luna usually feeds them every four hours or less. What is happening, he has no idea.