John Vucetich, a wildlife ecologist from Michigan Technological University, has me riveted. He is leading the winter wolf-moose study on Isle Royale, one the longest running research projects on predator-prey relationships.
Star Tribune photo courtesy of Rolf Peterson, Isle Royale Wolves, 2006.
He's been writing about his experiences for the New York Times Scientist at Work blog. Scientists are not always known for their ability to write dramatic prose about their research subjects, but Vucetich is an exception. Today he writes about how the Chippewa Harbor pack, the last surviving wolf pack on the island, has been trying to bring down a cow and her calf all winter. So far the wolves have gone away hungry, but he speculates that they may sense a vulnerability in that particular mother and calf that is invisible to the scientist's eye. That ability to recognize vulnerability is crucial to the survival of the pack.
"It is entirely possible that the Chippewa Harbor Pack has chased or tested half a dozen moose or more in the past 36 hours. It is not easy to kill an 800- or 900-pound moose with your teeth."
Star Tribune photo courtesy of Rolf Peterson. Isle Royale wolves, 1999