Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Wildlife in Muskoka: wolves

I have posted photos of wolf tracks, and my friend, Nancy, with her 600 Acres has lots of evidence, too. But this video (below), from Friends of Algonquin Provincial Park, demonstrates actual wolf behaviour! The park is immediately east of the Parry Sound-Muskoka region, and our animals are quite similar.

The flora and fauna of the park are well-studied, with much support material, and information on-line.

I bought several books there, the store is fabulous, with many visual art, natural toys, and books, including this one: Mammals of Algonquin Park.
 I also bought Insects of Algonquin Park to satisfy my curiosity!

Algonquin Park consists of five major habitats:

Deciduous Forest | | Coniferous ForestSpruce Bogs |   Beaver Ponds |   Lakes and Rivers

-all common to Muskoka.

In summer I have heard wolves howling across the lake, in the wild forest. No so much in winter, when sledders are frequently on the trails night and day.

Their prey include deer, smaller moose and beaver.

White-tailed deer migrate out of Algonquin in winter, moving to winter yards outside of the park.
Port Carling, Milford Bay, and Port Sandfield, with low snow, good ground cover,  are good places to look for deer. I have posted several photos of the deer about on roads.

What is very sad is that originally,

'Today, the wolf is protected in and around the Park, but for the first 65 years of the Park's existence, Park Rangers actively tried to eliminate the wolf from Algonquin.'

The photos I have of wolves are not alive. For that I am grateful, as much as I would like to get a shot.
You can see these lovely furry fellows in the store, The Canadian Carver, in Lake Superior Park, from our June trip!

Eastern Wolves are small: 25 kg (F) and 30 kg (M), only about 60 to 68 cm (24 - 27 ') at the shoulder, and have been misidentified as coyotes. There are more Eastern Wolves, as  the Red Wolf was extirpated from the wild in SE United States.
 They are not large enough to bring down large moose.
Land-clearing and exploitation by people, following European colonization, resulted in lower Red (Eastern) populations in the southeastern United States and the larger population in central Ontario and southern Quebec.

A permanent ban on the harvesting of wolves (and the similar looking species, the Coyote) in 40 township surrounding Algonquin Park was put in place in May 2004. Eastern Wolves (and therefore Red Wolves) are very small in size compared to the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) living in the boreal forest north of Lake Superior in Ontario.

February is their month of love, cubs have to be ready to accompany adults on their hunts when they are too large for the dens. They gestate about 60 days. The number of pups depends upon available food, as with many critters. Cubs are plopped in an area with water and insects while the hunt goes on. The Park info says that they leave the family when they are up to 2 years old.

This site is terrific, and has  teacher activities, as well as
It is a perfect place to study the Science Behind Algonquin's Animals [www.sbaa.ca].
  • The Ontario Government initiated the Park's first wolf research project in 1958, and the killing of wolves ceased. 
  • Dr. John Theberge from the University of Waterloo (1987-1999) provided valuable insight into the seasonal movements of Algonquin's wolves through the use of radio telemetry.
  • Dr. Brent Patterson of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources continues to track Algonquin's wolves with radio telemetry and GPS.

Feb. 18, 2010
"This video shows a pack of 7 wild Eastern Wolves in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada. Watch as the dominant wolf feeds upon the White-tailed Deer carcass and the other pack members interact. More dominant animals (holding their tails high when interacting) dominate subordinate pack members (holding their tails between their legs). At one point a more dominant animal "pins down" a subordinate wolf who "relaxes" until the other wolf departs. Common Ravens (the numerous birds) await their opportunity to scavenge for a meal throughout the duration of the video. This is a sight rarely recorded."


Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Great post. I love the videos. I have never seen wolves in the wild. I don't think we have them here in Oklahoma anymore. I've seen all sorts of coyotes. I love the videos.

Nancy Tapley said...

What is this? You went to the Park and didn't stop in to say Hi to me on the way??? I had 14 deer show up at the stable last night -- we don't feed them, but they do steal from the horses' round bale of grass hay. Our wolf pack has brought down two deer that we have found so far this winter: one right on the lake close to my house, the other on one of the ski trails. The Algonquin wolves can and do bring down adult moose as well, and I've seen some of them (up close and personal, but never with my camera, darn it!) and they can be BIG!

And their howls are fantastic -- you haven't lived until you've stood outside in the darkness of a wilderness night under the milky way and listened to the wolves sing down the stars.

Travis Erwin said...

Great post. I've never seen a wolf in the wild but I hope top one day.

Jenn Jilks said...

No, Nancy! We didn't go.
The folks at FOAA say that the Park wolves are not big enough to bring down an adult moose, and many leave the Park during winter, when the deer do. But I'm just quoting them!

I have heard them on the other side of our lake. They are fabulous!
I'm not sure I want to see one, Travis! I'm happy with other's photos!!!!

Anonymous said...

It's November on the Algonquin Dome. The deer have begun to descend to their winter grounds; the humans have snugged up their cottages - gone south - left the territory to be what it is naturally this time of year. And, oh YES! ... The wolves have followed! They howl and fuss and celebrate their dinners! And I am glad to be their neighbour! (Carolyn in Sinclair Twp.)

Jenn Jilks said...

Yes, @ anonymous. The same is true in Perth, where we live now. Cottagers have some nicer places these days, tho. Luxury year-round homes!
I loved hearing the wolves and would have loved to line the road, waving as tourists went home!