Evidence that wolves use cooperative ambush strategies to hunt beavers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Cooperative hunting can confer fitness benefits by increasing foraging efficiency. We documented a breeding pair of wolves in the Greater Voyageurs Ecosystem of Minnesota, USA that appeared to periodically use cooperative ambushing to hunt beavers. The breeding pair primarily chose to wait-in-ambush close to one another (< 65 m) but on different beaver feeding trails, which appears advantageous because: (1) feeding trails are where beavers are most active and vulnerable on land, (2) the probability that the pair encounters a beaver is increased, and (3) either wolf can quickly assist the other in killing a beaver. The cooperative ambush strategy these wolves used appears rare for most social Carnivora but we hypothesize this behavior is widespread in areas of wolf-beaver sympatry. This observation demonstrates that novel insights into the natural history of even well-studied predators are possible when technological advancements are combined with intensive fieldwork.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-231
Number of pages12
JournalEthology Ecology and Evolution
Volume36
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Dipartimento di Biologia, Università di Firenze, Italia.

Keywords

  • Canis lupus
  • Castor canadensis
  • GPS-cluster
  • ambush
  • hunting strategy
  • kill site
  • predation
  • sit-and-wait

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