August 22, 2011

The Marmot Who Cried Wolf

A wise sage once said, “Listen to the marmot, and you will see everything.”  Well, maybe I just made that up, but I have learned that the alarm call of the marmot is a great way of finding animals like hawks, eagles or bears.  And last week, it helped me (Joel) find a pack of wolves.

I was hiking down from Packer's Pass in the Skoki district, when I heard a marmot whistling on the far side of Ptarmigan Lake.  The whistling was insistent, so after about a minute I plunked myself down on the trail and got out the binoculars.  At first I thought it was a false alarm, but then I spied an adult black wolf.  Was it alone?  No, a little further away, having a break, was the rest of the pack, including six wolves born this spring.  What luck!

They were a long way away, but my timing was good, because the whole gang serenaded the wilderness with a big group howl, and then all nine wolves began travelling east towards Baker Lake.  I'd heard they were efficient travellers, and they proved it by covering almost 1 km in very short order.  I took some footage with the zoom on maximum, so even though they are in the distance, you can get a taste of what travelling wolves look like.  Enjoy.

PS: I saw another two wolves later in the week, right on the Lake O'Hara Fire Road.