Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Elliot's 9th Birthday... Wolf Captures & Bonfires

On February 23rd Elliot celebrated his 9th birthday. It was an eventful day that began with a long awaited opportunity our entire family was excited about. We were given permission (along with some others) to accompany a research team into Camp Ripley to observe the yearly wolf capture there. There is a wolf pack (or 2) living in the woodlands there that are being monitored and researched by using radio collars. It was now time to find the wolves using an airplane to track their signals, then a group in a small helicopter go try to chase them out in the open enough to shoot them with a tranquilizer dart and bring them back to an area in the forest to measure & weigh them, put a new collar on etc. We were to be observers of this process and were on location early in the morning brimming with excitement. Sadly, after 4 hours outside and cold they were only able to bring in the alpha female, who shocking to all was dead, and had been so for just a few days. It was noticed that she had several bite wounds on her body that may have become infected and caused her death. The team planned to study her further. The remaining hours they had difficulty catching the wolves due to them hiding in culverts, tunnels etc - it was shared with us that this lack of capture success was very unusual and that all typically goes much more smoothly. In the end, the helicopter became damages when it nicked some heavy branches, so the project was ceased for the day. There were many adults and children who left in disappointment... including ours. Ruby is still praying for the "dead mama wolf"!

Upon returning home around 2pm, we cooked up Elliot's meal that he requested for his special day (our homemade vegan/healthier version of Taco John's Super Potato 'Ole) and had his popcorn b-day cake. Then Elliot opened his gifts and was glad to receive a watch that he had his eye on, and the audio book of Pilgrim"s Progress. After a short rest we all headed off to our friends home for a church social that included an evening outdoor bonfire (MORE outside time), sledding, crockpots of homemade hot chocolate, and good company. We returned home exhausted and collapsed into bed! What a day!

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