Climate change and starvation
As northern climates change, and the tree line moves north, the southern distribution of muskoxen will also move north. With the changes in Arctic climate and weather, an increase in specific weather events such as wet snowfalls followed by freezing may lead to widespread and devastating die-offs. Restricted access to normal feeding areas of muskoxen because of snow and ice conditions can result in starvation.
Leader of the herd
Research by scientists from the Canadian Museum of Nature involving the ear-tagging and colour-marking of individual muskoxen has shown that solitary muskox bulls are important to the muskox herd structure. Single male muskoxen are often mature bulls moving from one herd to another, or younger bulls looking for a new herd and a chance to compete for access to females.
Prior to this research, wildlife managers believed that solitary bulls were old bulls, no longer active in breeding, and therefore should be hunted for food or sport.
The circle of life
In the High Arctic, when Arctic wolves kill a muskox, the carcass becomes a “rendezvous site” for the pack. Northern wolf pups must travel with the pack much earlier than southern wolves. The use of a muskox carcass as a meeting point ensures that the pups have food while they wait for the pack to make the next kill.