Wolves and Wolverines

 

This gallery contains images of grey Eurasian wolves. The images are of a wild grey wolf pack that live in no-man’s land near Kuikken Kampa, Finland, right on the Russian border. I travelled to Finland in June 2011 to make the most of the long arctic days; even so the light was low, as the wolves almost always came in the small hours when the Finnish twilight was at its darkest.

Although the grey wolves remained distant, it was a breathtaking experience to observe them in the wild, and for me a dream come true. The two wolves I observed were a grey coated male wolf and a paler coated female grey wolf which looked to be nursing. The two grey wolves were almost always together and seemed to be on patrol duty.

Their wolf-pack teamwork was incredibly intelligent and co-ordinated. I witnessed the wolves manoeuvring carefully to distract a large feeding brown bear. One circled round and suddenly attacked and bit the bear from behind, meanwhile while the pale female wolf took advantage of the distraction to grab some food.

Another highlight of the visit was spotting a wolverine emerging through the  cottongrass one night. They are one of Europe’s rarest mammals, with only around 300 individuals left alive. Wolverines are very secretive so it was a privilege to catch a glimpse of one, albeit ever so briefly. Wolverines are large, low slung, powerful carnivores weighing 50-60lb, about the size of a medium dog. Also known as carcajou or skunk bear, the wolverine is actually a member of the weasel family.

The wolverine we sighted was very twitchy, clearly nervous about the presence of its larger competitors, the grey wolves and brown bears and it didn’t hang around in the open long. The dark furred wolverine lolloped into view with quite a sinuous gait towards the lake and paused, sniffing the air and listening to the roaring of adult brown bears in the distance. Then it quickly retreated and vanished into the forest again.