Follow That Food! Wolf Migration in the Arctic

July 25, 2016

Zebra MigrationI’m cleaning out my files of unpublished manuscripts and realized that many of them would make excellent blog posts. Especially in the summer, when I would much rather be outside than in my office making words. 😀

I have a special place in my heart for this piece. Not only does it draw from my PhD experience, but it helped me land my very first book contract. Red Line Editorial requested a writing sample in the style and tone of the series I was being considered for. I wrote this and another piece over the weekend, and was promptly hired to write four kids’ books about animal migration. The rest is author history.

Lindsey Carmichael and a wolf hybrid

Me and Timber, who is 30% Malamute, 70% wolf, and 100% snuggle.

Follow That Food

All across the forests of Canada, wolves look for the same things.  They look for clean water and safe dens.  They look for a place where deer or moose are plentiful.  When wolves find everything they need in one area, they establish a territory, and that is where they stay.

Some wolves live in the far northern parts of Canada.  This land is called the arctic tundra, or the barren-grounds, because it is so cold trees will not grow.  Deer and moose can not survive here either.  Fortunately, arctic wolves love to eat barren-ground caribou.  There are thousands of caribou in a single herd.

A caribou herd has its babies all together, at places called calving grounds.  Arctic wolves make their dens as close to the calving grounds as they can.  This way, wolves can get food for their pups without traveling long distances.  At least, until autumn.  That is when caribou migrate south from the calving grounds into the forest, where they spend the winter.

What would happen if arctic wolves tried to stay in their territories all year round?  In fall and winter, there would be no caribou to hunt, and wolves would starve to death.  That is why arctic wolves have learned to migrate too.  When their pups get big enough, wolves leave their dens.  They follow the caribou all the way to the forest and back again in spring.  By migrating, wolves make sure there’s always food around when they need it.

A Migration or a Move?

The Dolphin-Union caribou herd has a very unique migration pattern.  In summer, these caribou live on Victoria Island in Canada.  That is where they give birth to their calves.  In autumn, after the arctic ocean freezes, the caribou and their babies walk south across the sea ice.  They spend the winter on the mainland before traveling north again in spring.

Sometimes, a few mainland wolves chase the caribou all the way north across the ocean.  Unlike the caribou, however, the wolves like Victoria Island so much they usually stay!

Like it? Check out my Animal Migration books for ages 6-9. Which you can read outside. Because it’s summer. 😀

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