In another stunning revelation of wolf behavior from Voyageurs National Park, researchers Thursday announced they have confirmed park wolves hunting for and eating fish out of streams as a regular part of their diet.
The researchers released the first-ever video of wolves eating freshwater fish, and said GPS data shows one pack spent about half their time during several weeks in April and May "hunting" in creeks for spawning suckers and northern pike.
The revelation comes just one week after the News Tribune first reported the same researchers confirming wolves spent weeks on end in blueberry patches, eating blueberries at peak summer ripeness. The same researchers also are the first to document wolves' consuming large numbers of beaver, when the animals are available in summer months, and that wolves will leave deer and moose alone if they can get beaver as meals.
There's some speculation that the wolves focus on beavers — and maybe now on fish — has helped keep the park's moose population stable at the same time moose numbers have crashed across most of their Minnesota range.
The Voyageurs Wolf Project, a collaboration between the University of Minnesota and Voyageurs National Park, has followed GPS-collared wolves from over seven different packs since 2015. The fish revelations were recently published in the journal Mammalian Biology.
Using GPS collars, the team collects location data from wolves every 20 minutes. That data reveals not just wolf behavior but also pack territory boundaries.
Researcher Tom Gable first noticed the wolf-fish interaction in April, 2017, when he hiked to a creek where GPS data showed one of the collared wolves was spending a lot of time. "As I approached the area, I briefly saw a wolf trying to catch a fish before it ran into the woods," Gable said. He then found fish remains and wolf tracks scattered along the creek.
The image above is a trail camera capturing a wolf in the process of stalking and removing a fish from a creek. This is the first time we have acquired scientific proof that wolves take fish out of the water. Up to this point, no other proof existed.
Given all of the work that has been done to study and conserve habitat for wolves, it is without question a major scientific discovery that, in the context of our current disinterest in preserving our planet, renders it tragic in a way. We are watching the slow-motion destruction of the planet and we are entertained by foolishness and the utterly crass. A handful of people remained dedicated to figuring out how the world works and we owe them a huge debt.