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Wolves and Wolverines

Two types of wolves (amaqqut; the singular is amaruq) are found in Nunavut. Tundra wolves on the mainland are often brown or grey and weigh 30 to 40 kilograms, while arctic wolves on the islands are usually smaller and white. Wolves on the mainland and Baffin Island prey mostly on caribou, while arctic wolves on the smaller Arctic islands hunt mainly muskoxen and arctic hares.

On Ellesmere Island, some wolves take the often abundant muskoxen almost exclusively, while other packs may concentrate on the large herds of arctic hares. Peary caribou are taken, but their mobility and small, scattered groups probably do not allow wolves to depend on them. Wolves will also eat lemmings, birds, fish, foxes and garbage. Wolf packs tend to be small and widely scattered. Wolves are usually found wherever there is suitable prey, but these quick and secretive animals are never easy to spot. In winter and spring, your guide may show you fresh tracks. With some luck you may even see the wolves that made them. In summer, wolves are often at inland denning sites raising pups or hunting. You will need considerable perseverance, patience and luck to see signs of wolves once the snow melts.

Being a mammal of the boreal forest, the wolverine (qavvik), the largest of weasels, is most common on the mainland of Nunavut, and is rarely seen on the Arctic islands. The stocky body, short, powerful legs and large feet give the wolverine the appearance of a small bear. Its dark brown fur is streaked with two tan stripes running the length of the body. Wolverine fur is used for trimming parka hoods because frost slips off hairs easily. Weight ranges from about 14 to 28 kilograms; females are smaller than males.

*Reproduced from an article Land Mammals by Marian and Mike Ferguson
contained in the Nunavut Handbook