Collar cam: Voyageurs Wolf Project gives rare perspective

A wolf wore the collar for six weeks.  A wolf wore the collar for six weeks.  |  Photo: Voyageurs Wolf Project

Baihly Warfield
Updated: April 15, 2021 09:20 PM
Created: April 15, 2021 07:00 PM

It's rare to see the world from a wolf's perspective. But Voyageurs Wolf Project researchers have given us a chance. 

In the spring of 2020, researchers fitted a wild wolf with a collar camera. Other animals like bears and deer have worn these before, but it's the first time to Joseph Bump's knowledge that a wild wolf has. 

"We knew whatever we got, if it worked, it would be novel, it would be something really special, and it would be kind of a first that the Voyageurs area could really celebrate," Bump said. 

He heads up the Voyaguers Wolf Project, which is a collaboration between the University of Minnesota and the National Parks Service. Their work is supported by the Environment & Natural Resource Trust Fund, which people contribute to through the Minnesota State Lottery. 

Their mission is to learn more about wolf behavior and survival in the summer.

"In North America to date, most of the research, the in-depth research on wolves has focused on winter because there are a number of reasons why it's easier to study wolves in winter, particularly in forested systems," Bump said. 

They've collected data through remote cameras and data collars before, but last spring was the first time they'd used a collar cam. The technology has gotten lighter, making it an option. 

"The collars are fancy enough to have a pre-programmed dropoff mechanism," Bump explained. "So the animal is running around and one day, it just goes 'click,' and it falls off."

Theirs stayed on the wolf for six weeks. It maintains a signal when it falls off so researchers can document the GPS coordinates and go get the memory card. 

"From the research side, I think the way to describe it is it's exploratory," Bump said. "We don't know what insights we'll gain exactly."

They distilled hours of video clips into a few minutes for their 83,000+ Facebook followers. 

"We're learning they sleep a lot. That's not entirely surprising. They've got to work hard to make a living and they're living in the outdoor elements," Bump said. "But you get this perspective." 

And he hopes it gives people an appreciation for the animals. 

"Wolves are this wonderful portal into wildlife and wild places like Voyageurs," he said. 

Bump said they plan to use the collar cam again this spring. 


Baihly Warfield

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