For wolf experts, “elicited howling surveys” involve fearlessly imitating what they aim to study.

BY CARA GIAIMO, Atlas Obscura

When searching for their subjects out in the field, animal researchers rely on a whole bag of tricks. They might hide in hunting blinds until their species of choice comes by, or pinpoint them with satellites. They can set up nets to catch them, bait them into humane traps, or use automatic cameras to figure out whether they’ve wandered through.

Wolf experts, though, have a different strategy. If they’re hoping to locate a pack, they don’t usually bother with waiting, or equipment. They just tilt their heads back, purse their lips, and let out a nice, long howl.

This is the gist of a technique called “elicited howling”—biologist-speak for “making noises at wolves so that they’ll howl back at you.” For decades, elicited howling has been an indispensable part of the wolf researcher’s toolkit. For entire article + video with wolf howls by TWA Coordinator Adrian Wydeven visit Atlas Obcura.


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