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Do Wolves Ambush Beaver

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Over the past decade, there has been much debating about whether wolves possess high-order cognitive abilities that facilitate deliberate or cooperative hunting strategies such as ambush to capture prey. Beavers can be important alternate or primary prey for wolves in North America and Europe, but no observations of wolves hunting and killing beavers exist. We describe the first documented observation of a gray wolf killing a beaver, an observation that has provided valuable insight into how beavers defend themselves when attacked by wolves, how wolves hunt beavers, and the predatory strategies and cognitive abilities of wolves. Our observation confirms that wolves do hunt and kill beavers by surprising and ambushing them, which demonstrates that wolves have a unique ability to switch between cursorial and ambush hunting strategies depending on the prey. We suggest that wolves learn how to hunt beavers using high-order mental abilities combined with information learned from prior interactions with beavers

Document: Do-Wolves-Ambush-Beaver.pdf  PDF icon

Author(s): Thomas D. Gable, Trent Stanger, Steve K. Windels, and Joseph K. Bump

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