Food dropped for hikers lures wolves

Sept. 5, 2009 at 11:07 PM
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EDMONTON, Alberta, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- Food dropped for hikers in the Canadian Arctic changed the behavior of a wolf pack, which forced a scientist to abandon her research and leave.

Catherine La Farge, a botanist at the University of Alberta, told the Edmonton Journal the wolves' behavior changed dramatically once the package dropped into their territory. Before the air drop, she said, the three wolves in the pack would occasionally pass through her camp as they went about their business, ignoring La Farge, her research assistant, David Wilkie, and their tents.

Three days after the airdrop, the wolves discovered the food package and tore it open, she said. While she and Wilkie scared the wolves away from camp, they remained close, keeping an eye on them and their food.

"They kept circling," she said. "It was so unlike their previous behavior."

La Farge called for an emergency pickup and she and Wilkie abandoned their research and left.

She complained to the Nunavut government about the food drop, intended for a Whitney & Smith Legendary Expeditions group hiking the Sverdrup Pass.

La Farge said teaching the wolves to scavenge has endangered future travelers in the area and the animals.

"The food is a hazard to the animals; that's my primary concern," La Farge said. "We're just seasonal visitors."

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