The new study, published in the Journal of Behavioral Ecology, is the first systematic analysis of wolf’s aggressive behavior, and the results reveal an overall lack of insight into these intelligent predators and dangerous perceptions among beavers. As part of the growing work of the Voyager Wolf project, this new study shows how they reject long-held assumptions about wolf hunting, showing that they have more strategies in their arsenal than letting go and exhausting their prey.
Although pack hunting of large animals such as mauve and bison is common in winter, wolves hunt beavers themselves in the dense boreal forests of North America and Eurasia, depending on the availability of food in the summer. As shown in the video below, beavers do not have the best eyesight when looking for wolf-in-waiting, but an animal that spends so little time on the ground is still not an easy kill. So, how do wolves do it?
More than 15,000 hours of field research and 962 predictive events attempted, after which the team had their answers. Of the total number of successful beaver hunters (214), 89-94 percent of the attack sites were downwind, which meant that beaver wolves had a very thin chance to smell. Beavers lack the vision they create with their noses and ears, and previous studies have shown that they use scents to keep (ornamental) eyes for predators. Although most observations did not put beavers on the menu, it understood that most wolves were terrified of their prey. In an email to IFLScience, the paper’s lead author, Dr. Thomas Gable, said, “We suspect that wolves never encounter beavers in most of these amazing endeavors.” “It is challenging to predict when the beavers will be on the ground at any given time and we suspect that wolves often waited in the territories and never came near the beaver.”
When hunting beavers, it seems that wolf patience hailed as a virtue that many people wait anywhere from four to 12 hours for a beaver to appear, and one determined wolf waits an incredible 30 hours. However, when it comes to this particular breed of prey, success is not simple as an element of surprise. “While beavers may seem like easy prey to catch and kill, it’s far from the truth,” said Gabel, “with strong bites and sharp teeth. Not to mention, beavers rarely move away from the water, explained All Gable, which is probably the second largest contributor to a large number of failed offensive attempts.
In winter, these beavers may rely on a protective layer of ice to protect them from wolves, but in summer, they represent complementary feeding that wolves can land without the rest of the pack. Having access to small animals like beavers and deer means, they do not need so much backup and hunting alone provides more nutrition than group efforts. Wolf gable studies spend more time hunting alone than packs. This proves that the benefits of being responsible for your food supply outweigh the cost of sharing your catch with others, but the results of this cost-benefit-analysis will vary with the seasons.