Adam Scepaniak 06.26.23
The timberwolf population of Minnesota has been a hot topic for many decades. They prey on the livestock of farmers, lower the whitetail deer population for hunters, and have been a great source of research for the Voyageurs Wolf Project and the world at-large. Most recently, the Voyageurs Wolf Project has documented – maybe for the 1st time in an in-depth manner – wolves fishing in the wild as a part of their diet.
Wolf Coverage on AllOutdoor
The Voyageurs Wolf Project has recently published a paper in The Royal Society Publishing openly and thoroughly documenting wolves fishing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of northern Minnesota. The paper called “The ethology of wolves foraging on freshwater fish in a boreal ecosystem” is an eye-opening piece showing wolves purposefully forage, hunt, and fish for freshwater fish in boreal ecosystems.
Through global positioning system (GPS) collar locations, remote cameras, field observations and the first wild wolf to be GPS-collared with a camera collar, we describe when, where and how wolves fish in a freshwater ecosystem. From 2017 to 2021, we recorded more than 10 wolves (Canis lupus) hunting fish during the spring spawning season in northern Minnesota, USA. Wolves ambushed fish in creeks at night when spawning fish were abundant, available and vulnerable in shallow waters. We observed wolves specifically targeting sections of rivers below beaver (Castor canadensis) dams, suggesting that beavers may indirectly facilitate wolf fishing behaviour. Wolves also cached fish on shorelines. We documented these findings across five different social groups at four distinct waterways, suggesting that wolf fishing behaviour may be widespread in similar ecosystems but has probably remained difficult to study given its annual brevity. Spawning fish may serve as a valuable pulsed resource for packs because the spring spawning season coincides with low primary prey (deer Odocoileus virginianus) availability and abundance, and when packs have higher energetic demands owing to newly born pups. We demonstrate the flexibility and adaptability of wolf hunting and foraging behaviour, and provide insight into how wolves can survive in a myriad of ecosystems.
To better understand that wolves fishing is not only not an anomaly, but it is a common practice for wolves is an iconic development in the study of wolves. Moreover, it is extremely interesting to learn that even though beavers are a natural part of a wolves diet, beavers also play a vital interrelationship role in wolves fishing. As always, let us know all of your thoughts in the Comments below. We always appreciate your feedback.