Looking for wolves, catching a bear

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Video of a very rotund bear here in the Northland got a lot attention on social media this week. Views popped up from all over the world.

The video was taken by one of more than 200 trail cameras set up by the Voyageurs Wolf Project. But the cameras are actually set up not for bears necessarily, but primarily to study wolves.

The cameras are part of the University of Minnesota’s, Voyageurs Wolf Project, led by Tom Gable. "We have about 220 of them now that we’ve deployed," Gable told us. "That’s a lot of cameras it’s a lot of work to keep them maintained, but they give us such good insight into whats going on in the north woods.

The U of M’s Voyageurs Wolf Project is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of wolves. Gable says their hope is to be able to piece it all together, providing a more detailed understanding of how wolves live and manage here in the Northland, and how they impact the environment for conservation and management.

"We are now able to observe wolves in a way that we never would have been able to 10, 15, 20 years ago," Gable said.

The cameras and the two dozen GPS collars they have on wolves have proven invaluable in both the environmental research, and for outreach.

Gable said, "It’s exciting to be able to share things the public would never be able to see or observe, because people can’t just put out hundreds of trail cameras, or put collars on wolves to see where they go, but we can. And we can share that with the public for free and we think that’s pretty cool."

The best trail cam videos end up on their social media platforms. The Voyageurs Wolf Project is on Facebook and Twitter and much of their research is on their website too.