Remote-activated cameras allow researchers to peep into the otherwise secretive lives of an array of different species. Camera traps have brought us footage of a Eurasian eagle owl plucking a long-legged buzzard chick from its nestriver otters returning to Japan after a 40 year absence, and a glimpse at how many animals visit a single tree in Italy's National Park of Abruzzo (it's a lot more than you would think).

The most recent remarkable snippet of animal behaviour comes to us from Minnesota. It shows a wolf mother carefully relocating her seven pups one by one from a den that was beginning to flood.


The camera trap was put in place by the Voyageurs Wolf Project, a collaboration between the University of Minnesota and Voyageurs National Park with the goal of learning more about the ecology of wolves and their prey during the summer months in the Greater Voyageurs Ecosystem. "Throughout summer, wolves are primarily doing two things: hunting prey and raising pups," the team states on its Facebook page. "By studying both of these aspects of wolf ecology, we can get a glimpse of the secret lives of wolves during the summer."

The team positioned a camera just outside of a previously used den site back in March in the hopes that a mother wolf would move in. In early April, a pregnant female did just that and promptly gave birth to seven pups. Just five days later, rapidly melting snow caused the den to flood putting the pups in danger of drowning. Carefully and methodically, the mother wolf retrieved each of her newborns and relocated them to a safer spot.

"Being able to see that was just mind-boggling," Ph.D. candidate Tom Gable told Tbnewswatch. "It was astounding. I've been up here doing this for five years, and we never get to see our wolves in that sort of detail, ever. It was really cool."

The current fate of the pups remains unknown. "We are still trying to get a GPS-collar on a wolf in that pack so we can find out where the new den is," the team explained on Facebook.

In addition to camera traps, the Voyageurs team also fit selected wolves with GPS tracking collars to glean information about their movements and territories. Some of Minnesota's wolves range as far as Ontario covering over 4,800 kilometres (almost 3,000 miles) in less than a year!

To keep up to date with the latest development, visit the Voyageurs Wolf Project's Facebook page.