NANSEN SHARES A MOMENT WITH ARCTIC WOLVES

NANSEN SHARES A MOMENT WITH ARCTIC WOLVES

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October 16, 2019 | Arctic Haven

NANSEN SHARES A MOMENT WITH ARCTIC WOLVES

Arctic Haven is home to one of the last great caribou migrations of Canada. Every August and September, as the caribou migrate, the Ennadai Lake wolf pack comes out to hunt caribou.

Autumn colours on the tundra

Sitting on a granite outcropping overlooking the rolling hills of the Arctic barrens, Arctic Haven guest Chris and myself share in “awe” the fields of changing colors. The vibrant reds and orange dwarf birch, yellow larch, red bearberries, the golden alders and meadow grass. The multitude of vibrant colours blending with one another as a light breeze blows over the land.

Caribou against the fall colours
Caribou against the fall colours

I spot a herd of caribou feeding on the far hills; the sudden silence is broken with the howls of the Ennadai Lake wolf pack. Looking through the spotting scope, I count 11 wolves; 5 pups and 6 adults. In a line, one behind another, the adults gracefully trot across and over the hills that form the horizon. Left behind, the pups play in the meadow; chewing on a caribou leg, wrestling and taking long naps. We decide to make our approach to the edge of the meadow, a one-kilometer walk from our heli-drop. We find a nice hidden location on the edge of the esker on the side of the meadow. Here, the pups are too far away for my 70-200mm lens. I decide to sit and enjoy their company. Meanwhile Chris, equipped with a 500mm lens, snaps photos.

Missed: a wolf trots past Nansen and Chris
Missed: a wolf trots past Nansen and Chris

Eventually, the wolf pups move off, over the near by hill and out of sight. Several hours pass with no sight or sounds. I know from previous experience that sitting quietly and patiently might pay off, as the parents will eventually return to feed the pups. We appreciate a few other wildlife moments as they appear. Ten minutes photographing a field vole and a few minutes with a flock of ptarmigan. Still time goes on with no wolves. Fifteen minutes before our helicopter departure back to the lodge, distant howls return and behind me appears two adults and two pups. The wolves pure white are such beautiful sight in the backdrop of vibrant reds. The adults keeping a distance of 150-200 yard decide to cross the meadow keeping a vigilant eye on our presence. On the other hand, the pups walk right up to Chris and myself. Only a couple of meters away they are totally oblivious to our presence. The moment does not last long; they move past following the adults towards the local den.

Two inquisitive Arctic wolf pups
Two inquisitive Arctic wolf pups

We take few moments to reminisce on the most incredible encounter we just witnessed. As a wildlife guide, being surrounded by wolves in this remote intact environment is such a privilege. Wolves are the symbol wilderness, “the call of the wild”. See more on Arctic Haven.

Nansen awaits a helicopter pickup while on assignment
Nansen awaits a helicopter pickup while on assignment

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