Brutal trail camera footage showing a wolf killing a beaver — with the beaver’s head later seen being carried around by another wolf — is only the second-ever recording of this type of hunt.
The footage was captured in Minnesota by a camera set up by the Voyageurs Wolf Project on September 17. Taking to YouTube, the wildlife researchers called it “the absolute trail camera jackpot.”
The only other video of a wolf killing a beaver was recorded by a person who witnessed it on a logging road in Quebec in 2015.
Back in July, one of the Voyageurs Wolf Project’s trail cameras captured a wolf almost catching a beaver that was in its dam. The rodent only narrowly escaped the canine’s jaws.
Off With its Head
In the recent footage, the large beaver is seen emerging from the water and stepping over barbed wire. In a flash, a male wolf appears from nowhere and a chaotic struggle ensues as the pair fight.
The beaver and wolf disappear out of the frame and the researchers may never have been certain of the beaver’s fate if it wasn’t for another clip — 19 hours after the attack — from the same camera which shows a different wolf walking through the frame with the beaver’s head in its mouth.
“A few days later, we hiked out and found the bloody remains of this kill not far from our camera,” writes the Voyageurs Wolf Project.
“The beaver put up a valiant fight and at a few points was only a few meters from the safety of the water. If the beaver could have just freed itself for a few moments, it might have lived…There appears to be a thin margin for beavers between life and death when on land.”
Voyageurs Wolf Project explains that the particular trail camera that captured the kill was set up to monitor beavers stress levels.
The barbed wire is there to collect hair samples: when a beaver crawls over the wire, tufts of hair get caught on it and researchers can analyze these samples.
The camera was set up by University of Minnesota graduate student Dani Freund who wanted to examine how wolf predation and other factors influence beavers’ stress levels.
Essentially, the student wanted to know whether beavers living in areas with more wolves suffer more stress than beavers who live in areas with fewer wolves.
Image credits: Voyageurs Wolf Project