Wolves use specialized techniques to attack rodents that are not being seen. They use multiple techniques to hunt their prey. While there are situations where wolves may wander, they will often chase large prey like deer and elk until they become weaker. The Journal Behavioral Ecology reports that all lonely wolves often play on small animals, such as beavers. They also use specialized strategies to attack uninvited rodents.
Scientists and researchers in Minnesota found that predators were at various locations where they were known for setting out beavers. The poor eyesight of the wolves meant that the predators waited a few meters before they approached the areas where they were most active and then laid low to block their better sense of smell. Thomas Gable, one of the biologists, said that it showed a lot flexibility in their hunting strategies. Large predators like cougars hunt prey with specific methods. But wolves adapt their tactics to suit the prey they are hunting.
Beavers are generally not good food for hungry wolves. Beavers stay close to the water during their brief journey onto land so that predators can run away quickly. Gable stated that beavers can sometimes weigh 50-60 pounds and are made of muscle similar to a football. These beavers are strong and can do serious damage due to their sharp teeth.
Voyageurs’ surrounding forests and lands provide large amounts of beavers for wolves during the warmer months. However, summer prey such as deer and moose are well fed, making it difficult for wolves to eat beavers. So wolves tend to pursue smaller prey on the own.
Beavers can be predictable because they will return to the same path to clear vegetation to build their dams or lodges. “Wolves can always go into a beaver lake that is active, and beavers will still be on the ground.
Gable and his associates fitted GPS collars to 32 wolves in order to better understand how they choose to lay in anticipation of the beavers. They searched for signs that beavers were active at the locations where the wolves used to spend their time. The team was able to see signs that the wolves were there, such as flattened vegetation and scattered hair.