Story at a glance
- A grizzly bear was caught on camera following a pack of wolves as they hunted on elk.
- The bear eventually intercepted an elk carcass, as the wolf pack looked on and allowed the bear to take their kill.
- It’s a rare phenomenon called kleptoparasitism, when one animal takes resources from another.
A grizzly bear went on an unusual adventure in Yellowstone National Park that resulted in stealing and then eating a wolf pack’s prey.
The National Parks Service (NPS) posted a video to Facebook that showed a grizzly bear following a Junction Butte wolf pack that was hunting elk back in late October 2021. The grizzly bear followed the pack of wolves closely, and just as the wolves took down an elk, the bear jumped in to steal the carcass.
It’s a rare phenomenon known as kleptoparasitism, when one animal takes resources from another in the form of theft.
“This bear seems to have figured out that following the wolves in the morning will increase its chances of encountering a high-calorie meal,” said NPS.
NPS also explained that typically wolves will yield to incoming bears because hunting is an especially dangerous act and it’s better for wolves to wait their turn at a carcass that’s been overtaken by a bear than to continue hunting. From the grizzly bear’s perspective, a fresh elk carcass is a source of high fat and protein that’s ideal for preparing for hibernation.
However, it takes a significant amount of energy for a grizzly bear to follow a wolf pack around on their hunting journey but the reward can be equally high.
According to NPS, wolves hunt efficiently, typically preying on animals that other predators cannot kill. As of 2021, there were at least 123 wolves in Yellowstone.
Wolves are slightly outnumbered by grizzly bears, with about 150 grizzly bears living wholly or partially in Yellowstone.
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