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How to Track a Pack

While searching for articles to blog about this week, I came across an article related to wolves and how one tracks a wolf pack. As a resident of New Hampshire, I have come to appreciate the eeriness that only a howl or hoot in the middle of the night can produce and the alarm I feel whenever I hear the crunch of dry leaves or the cries of wild animals. While I admire animals, I also fear them, particularly wolves, due to their ability to maintain hidden until they wish to be found.  However, tracking these elusive creatures has become the mission of wolf-tracker Isaac Babcock due to his quest to track the Lookout pack living in the Cascade Range of mountains. By studying how wolves communicate and typical pack behavior, Babock believes he can effectively locate the Lookout pack that vanished in recent years through a human tracker device he created to mimic the cries of wolves. Babcock explains that through a combination of growls, barks, whines and howls, he will be able to entice the wolves into communicating and eventually seeking the impersonated wolf howls.

Wolves are excellent trackers and hunters by nature and the opportunity to study their habits and communication abilities will be a huge accomplishment for Babcock and his team. Babcock believes that watching the wolves in such intimate settings through video recordings has the “power to change the way the species [is] viewed.” Ultimately, by using science to create devices that mimic animal cries and other tracking methods, scientists are finding animals that don’t want to be found. Although these advances allow scientists to research and understand certain animals better, this article makes me question if more harm than good will come out of this. For example, poachers could track certain animals down easier or the imitation of animal cries could confuse the actual animals and lure them away from their legitimate pack to a fake pack. I believe that some of nature’s secrets are meant to remain hidden, and by creating machines that imitate the cry of certain animals, those secrets might be discovered. What do you think? Do you believe humans should know all the secrets of the animal kingdom or do you believe that those secrets could be used to harm rather than help creatures?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/17540978 Image

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. leimaf
    April 11, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Although I believe that humans certainly have proven their potential to bring harm to many animal species, it is still beneficial for us to expand our knowledge of them. Over the centuries, man has made much progress in understanding our environment and the different species living in yet much still remains unknown. Saying that we should not explore further stands in the way of making more important discoveries that could potentially be important to our future. At the same time, however, since we are capable of abusing or misusing such information there should be interest groups and legislatures responsible for the surveillance of scientists, hunters, poachers, businessmen or anyone else in direct contact with the environment. In this way, we will be able to gain knowledge while creating minimal harm.

  2. April 15, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    To answer your last question, I think that for every good use of something, there can also be a bad use of something if manipulated in the wrong way. Science in general has a lot of this good vs. bad debate of whether or not something is ‘good’ in the name of science but can be used in a bad way (think of the recent bird flu virus study that was mentioned in the blog a few weeks back).

    I personally do not see anything wrong with trying to understand the world around us, even if it is about more naturally elusive subjects like the wolf. I think that helping to understand different parts of nature is a good thing, so we can better protect it and appreciate it.

  3. April 16, 2012 at 3:35 am

    I honestly think the more we are able to understand the natural world the better we are able to improve ourselves as a species. Generally speaking members of the animal kingdom tend to have natural methods that we can only vaguely emulate to suit our needs. From camoflague to aerodynamics, most animals have thousands of years of evolution backing their survival compared to the paltry few we have spend mimicing them. If we can better understand how wolves are able to communicate in such a stealthy manner it could reveal methods of communication that could be vital in cases of espionage or military tactics.

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