In the wild, it’s first come first serve, survival of the fittest, only the strong survive, and most critters will go to extreme lengths to make sure they get fed.
But… even in the wild, there’s such as thing as freeloaders, and I’m not talking about scavengers.
One particular grizzly bear at Yellowstone National Park came up with a genius idea to follow along a wolf pack in search of its prey. And no, the grizzly was not there to make friends.
According to The Hill, this grizzly was following the Junction Butte wolf pack as they were in the midst of an elk hunt back in October of 2021. The wolves tracked down an elk, and when they captured it, the grizzly made sure it wasn’t gonna leave hungry.
It jumped in and stole the carcass, taking home a nice meal.
This “rare phenomenon” is known as kleptoparasitism, which is where one animal steals the resources of another animal/pack of animals.
The National Park Service (NPS) weighed in on the rare occurrence:
“This bear seems to have figured out that following the wolves in the morning will increase its chances of encountering a high-calorie meal.”
The NPS also said that wolves will typically yield for bears, because it puts their own safety at risk, knowing that they don’t stand much of a chance against the much larger creatures, and they simply wait their turn.
Keeping Up With The Wolves
According to the NPS, it’s a rare occurrence because following a wolf pack around takes a lot of energy for the bear, but can be very rewarding, as an elk carcass is high in protein and fat, which is pivotal for hibernation.
“On the morning of October 21, 2021 visitors watching wildlife in Yellowstone’s northern range were amazed when they saw an adult grizzly bear seemingly hunting elk with the Junction Butte wolf pack.
Wolves and bears typically compete with one another for prey, so why might this be happening?
Typically, wolves will yield to incoming bears. Since hunting is dangerous and often unsuccessful, it’s better for wolves to wait their turn at a carcass that has been usurped by a bear than it is for them to continue hunting.
From the bear’s perspective, it takes a lot of energy to follow a wolf pack around, but the reward is high if it successfully takes over a carcass. A fresh elk carcass is a wonderful source of fat and protein for a grizzly bear preparing for hibernation.
This bear seems to have figured out that following the wolves in the morning will increase its chances of encountering a high-calorie meal.”
Ever work on a group project where one dumbass doesn’t do any of the work, but still gets a good grade?
This is nature’s version of that…
Minnesota Wolf Pups
Just when you thought the video of a wild little wolf pup trying to howl was the most adorable thing we’ve ever posted to this website, we’ve got a new contender for that crown.
A trail camera in Voyageurs National Park in Northern Minnesota recently captured not just one little wolf pup, but an entire litter of pups scampering around their den.
“The Half-Moon Pack had the largest litter of any pack this year with 8 pups.
The largest litter we have ever documented was 9 pups so this was pretty close to the record!
A large litter of pups does not necessarily translate into more wolves in that pack come winter. The pups have to run the “summer” gauntlet, so to speak, of surviving low food availability/starvation, avoiding disease, and evading predators.
Case-in-point: the Lightfoot Pack had 7 pups last year but all of the pups died.
We know that a few pups died of starvation and one was killed by the Half-Moon pack. We are not sure what killed the others but suspect starvation.
And so the Lightfoot Pack remained only a breeding pair this winter despite their large litter. We will see whether the Half-Moon litter fares better!”
This isn’t the only litter of wolf pups creating a buzz though.
Earlier this year, the first litter of wild wolf pups born in Colorado since the 1940s was confirmed by the Colorado Department of Parks & Wildlife.