Delectable Sheep

I camped out last night, and ran across a herd of twelve bighorn rams as the sun was setting.

Bighorn ram (Ovis canadensis), Wyoming

It occurred to me, as I delighted in looking at these sheep for purely asthetic reasons, that a wolverine would probably have a different reaction, namely: yum! Jason Wilmot speculates that there’s an as-yet-unproven relationship between mountain goat distribution and wolverine distribution, and we know that wolverines seem particularly fond of snacking on beavers, but wild sheep, as one of the few ungulates capable of surviving in high altitude terrain, also play a role in gulo’s diet. The Glacier Park study observed instances of wolverines eating sheep and, half a world away, a friend of mine watched a Mongolian wolverine chase argali sheep in Tavan Bogd National Park. Whether wolverines are actually hunting sheep, or opportunistically scavenging sheep remains, members of the Ovis genus are likely an important food source.

Speaking of chasing things, both F3 and M57 dropped the collars that we put on them this spring. I’ll be headed out on Saturday to try to retrieve M57’s collar, a last hurrah for this wolverine season before I leave for Mongolia on June 17th. I’ve never been on a collar retrieval before, but I understand that they can become exasperating, even when the collar is still sending out a signal and you can use telemetry to help find it. So keep your fingers crossed for a successful hunt and useful information once we get the collar back to the office.


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