Rare camera footage captured a beaver narrowly escaping a wolf’s jaws in remarkable trail camera footage captured in northern Minnesota.
The video posted by the Voyageurs Wolf Project on Wednesday shows at least two wolves trying to catch the beaver while it was in its dam.
The lead wolf gets incredibly close, with the beaver apparently not seeing the predator until very late when it darted away at the last second — diving into the water below.
Rare Trail Camera Observation
The Voyageurs Wolf Project describes the footage as amazingly lucky. “We cannot overstate how rare such observations are.”
The project explains that in 2015, there was no recorded observation of wolves hunting beavers. That was until a person recorded footage of a beaver being hunted and killed by a wolf on a logging road.
However, since then there has been precious little other evidence of this type of hunting behavior.
“What is amazing is that wolves regularly hunt and kill beavers across a wide swath of North America, Europe, and Asia and yet so few people have ever actually seen this happen,” writes the Voyageurs Wolf Project (VWP). “In sum, a super common event that is rarely observed.”
The research project is trying to unravel the mystery of wolves hunting beavers by using indirect evidence from kills and GPS-collar movements. However, direct observations, such as the one above, offer the most valuable insights.
“Although we have had many cameras on beaver dams, we have never captured anything remotely like this before. So you can imagine our excitement when we saw this,” adds the VWP.
Analysis of Wolves Hunting a Beaver
The VWP shared its thoughts on the behavior shown in the video, wondering why the beaver did not move until so late.
“The wolf was barreling toward the beaver and yet the beaver did not move until the wolf was super close,” they write.
“[It] could possibly be related to the beaver’s poor eyesight and inability to determine what was coming at it until the wolf was right there. Or the dam blocked the beaver from seeing the wolf.”
Given how close the wolf’s mouth got to the beaver’s tail, the VWP speculated how often the large rodents encounter the canines.
“We have long thought that beavers on the downslope of dams are vulnerable to wolves because they would have little time to get back over the dam into the pond should they encounter a wolf,” writes the VWP.
“In this instance, the beaver was able to escape into deep water in a small pond below the dam. But if there wasn’t that pond, the beaver would have been in trouble. And given wolves’ propensity to travel across beaver dams, seems like the downslope of dams could be a risky place for a beaver.”
The VWP use trail cameras to reveal much about the lives of wild animal. Last month, camera traps revealed that wolves go fishing far more than researchers realized.