Episode available within Canada only.

At Canada’s northernmost edge lies a remote and barren wilderness, where few animals are tough enough to survive: Ellesmere Island. Ghosts of the Arctic follows a family of wolves as they struggle to raise their pups in this unforgiving environment. Set within a stunning landscape of snow-capped mountains and ice-locked fjords, this documentary offers a glimpse into a world that’s rarely been seen before.

Snow White and her pupsSnow White and her pups

At its core, a wolf pack is a large extended family where everyone must work together to survive. Snow White and Alpha – the pack’s mother and father – are a dedicated and loyal couple. They’ve lead their family through the dark and frigid winter months, and they now embark on a new challenge: to raise their pups in the brief arctic summer. 

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But successfully raising their pups will be no easy task. Danger lurks nearby. Rival packs pose the greatest danger to pups. Watch as a young female wolf strikes out on her own to try and start a new family. When a rival pack discovers her den, she suddenly finds herself in a perilous situation, and must do everything she can to try and save her young. 

As the warmth of summer arrives, Snow White and Alpha’s pups take their first steps out into the world. Cute and fuzzy, they’re ready to explore. We soon meet another female, Blackspot, who joins the pack to help Snow White care and nurse the pups. Having two females nursing the same litter is extremely rare – a behaviour that’s never been filmed before! Their cooperation could make the difference between the pup’s survival or death, and shows that we still have much to learn about the social lives of wolves. 

SCENE FROM THE FILM: A glorious but short summer arrives on the tundra.

The wolves aren’t the only ones trying to raise their young in the short northern summer. Long-tailed jaegers have migrated across thousands of kilometers of open ocean to come to Ellesmere Island to breed. Arctic hares also have their young, but the leverets will need to blend carefully into the landscape if they are to avoid predators. And it’s a full house over at the arctic fox den, where there’s a litter of eleven kits! The adult foxes rarely have time for a break as they work hard to keep their kits fed. 

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While the warm weather brings a pulse of life to the north, our story reveals how in the Arctic there are no easy seasons. Food is scarce on the tundra, and the wolves fall on hard times. They must roam far and wide in search of muskox and arctic hares, but they don’t always find enough to eat. Despite their best efforts, tragedy strikes. Snow White is forced to leave the den with her pups and set off across the tundra on a perilous journey to find food. Will she and her pups manage to survive?

With never-before-seen footage of wolf family life, Ghosts of the Arctic is a dramatic and touching story of loyalty, companionship and devotion. It’s an epic tale that reveals the struggles and triumphs of a family working to survive in one of the last great wildernesses on Earth.

Also on CBC