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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Biomedical Research at Points Unknown


Klaus sporting his new collar

Researcher with his subject

A biomedical researcher, interested in using the Points Unknown sled dogs in his research for a device to be used on free ranging wolves to track their activity, visited us last week. We chose Klaus as the first dog to be tested and fitted him with the custom collar so his activity around the yard could be recorded. The next step will be to place the collars on a few dogs while working in harness, however this will have to wait until the temperatures cool down enough to begin fall training. Below is a summary of this study written by the researcher.

“Little is known about the activity levels of free ranging wolves. Their travel speed, length of journeys and what time of day that they travel would be of great interest to researchers. In order to obtain this kind of information I’m suggesting that a motion sensing accelerometer (similar to a pedometer) could be incorporated into a radio transmitter collar for a wolf. The commercially available accelerometer device, typically used in sleep labs is about one inch by one inch by ½ inch in size. In order to validate that this method will work I’m doing testing on sled dogs at Points Unknown and another facility. Sled dogs are similar in size to wolves and a bit easier to work with (that would be an understatement!). The testing will consist of dogs wearing the accelerometer devices in specially made collars while pulling a sled (wheeled or on snow) at controlled speeds as well as while the dogs are resting and socializing. The speeds will be monitored by a GPS instrument on a minute by minute basis. My hope is that I can easily distinguish resting, walking, trotting and running based on the step-wise increasing number of counts per minute on the accelerometer. If I can reliably correlate the counts to activity then the next step is to incorporate this electronic accelerometer chip into a radio wolf collar and start measuring free ranging activity in wolves. The goal is to have the radio collar ready to go by spring of 2009 though that’s quite ambitious.”
Gus Fenton
Shawano LLC
Phone: 612 823-2566

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