Wolves eat beaver

A study done in Voyageurs National Park found that wolves eat beaver. According to this study not much was known about the relationship between this predator and prey.

While the beaver spends the majority of the winter safely beneath the ice this changes during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall as well as the open water season. It’s during this time beavers find themselves being hunted and eaten by wolves.

The study conducted in Voyageurs National Park used radio collared wolves to determine where and when beavers were killed.  Beavers were most at risk when they had to travel across land or while in shallow water. The study found wolves tend to bed down where they know there are beavers. Here’s an interesting excerpt from the study.

We think a typical hunting strategy in our study area consists of 3 components: 1) waiting near areas of high beaver use (e.g., feeding trails) until the beaver comes near shore or ashore, 2) using vegetation, the dam, or other habitat features for concealment, and 3) attacking the beaver by cutting off access to water, or immediately attacking the beaver (e.g. ambush). If wolves were simply killing beavers opportunistically, most clusters in active beaver habitats should be kill sites because wolves would only travel by these features rather than bedding down next to them. However, of all clusters <15 m from active beaver habitat features 63% were bed sites. We think this is evidence that wolves wait near active beaver habitats as a hunting strategy to kill beavers. If wolves wait for beavers, it follows that they would have to use concealment to avoid being detected.

Check out the rest of the study to learn more about this interesting wolf beaver relationship.

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