Foraging Behaviours of Wolverines at a Large Arctic Goose Colony

  • Gustaf Samelius
  • Ray T. Alisauskas
  • Serge Larivière
  • Christoffer Bergman
  • Christopher J. Hendrickson
  • Kimberly Phipps
  • Credence Wood
Keywords: wolverine, Gulo gulo, foraging behaviour, food caching, predation, scavenging, Ross’s goose, Chen rossii, lesser snow goose, Chen caerulescens, arctic fox, Alopex lagopus, Queen Maud Gulf Bird Sanctuary

Abstract

At the large Ross's goose and lesser snow goose colony at Karrak Lake, Nunavut, Canada, we saw wolverines kill two geese, take 13 eggs from 12 goose nests, and take three goose carcasses from two fox dens. Wolverines also made unsuccessful attempts to capture geese and frequently ignored eggs from nests where geese had fled the approaching wolverine. Most foods (all geese killed by wolverines and 80% of the eggs) were cached for later use, whereas few foods were eaten immediately (20% of the eggs and part of a goose taken from a fox den, which was later lost) or lost (all geese taken from fox dens). Wolverines spent little time caching foods (e.g., some foods were never covered), which suggests that recovery of these foods was not crucial to wolverines. When taking foods from fox dens, wolverines were mobbed by foxes; as a result, only one wolverine managed to consume part of a goose carcass taken from a fox den. These observations illustrate the opportunistic nature of wolverines and suggest that their scavenging success may be influenced by how well foods are defended.

Published
2002-01-01