August 17, 2008

puppies and teddybears with big scary claws

Got this from Daily Kos, which I seem to be reading while I'm lounging around being sick. It's awesome footage of a grizzly mama and two cubs getting a little harassed by a wolf, which seems to want to play with the cubs. Two things I noticed: first, that wolf is big! Grizzlies are enormous, and the wolf looks not too much smaller than the mama: I guess they must have really different builds, because a large wolf is 150 pounds and a small grizzly sow starts at something like 250 or 300 pounds. Second, you can really tell that at one point the wolf wants to play - it looks just like a dog doing what's called a play bow with its shoulders and head low, hindquarters high, and tail wagging (right after minute four). The grizzly cubs are almost impossible for me to read - mama seems mostly interested in chasing the wolf away, but I can't tell what the cubs want at all. I think this speaks to the long human acquaintance (including, for many of us, personal acquaintance) with wolf relatives. We're pretty good at reading canine behavior; ursine stays kind of mysterious. Third thing, even though I said there'd be two: this is such a cool thing to do! The USGS is putting solar-powered motion-activated cameras in the Northern Rockies to videotape wildlife doing their wildlife thing. It's mostly to understand how effective their DNA collection efforts are, and whether there's sampling bias with respect to age and sex, but you can see a wide range of other applications for that kind of camera information.

Here's the video, and here's the link to the USGS site.

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