Hunter Captures Video of Extremely Rare Wolf Behavior

Jon Galler was hunting near Hill City, Minnesota, when he observed some wolves below his deer stand. While seeing a wolf in the wild is a special sighting alone, Galler became privy to a rare scenario of a wolf hunting a beaver. Only a few videos exist that demonstrate wolves targeting this tree-gnawing prey, but the tactics this wolf used are exceptionally particular–it went underwater to catch the beaver.

Galler spoke with Voyagers Wolf Project, a University of Minnesota research group, about the strange encounter.

According to Galler, the semi-aquatic mammal was relatively undisturbed as the large canines crossed the dam. It continued grooming itself on a nearby rock, seemingly unaware.

“The lead wolf did not seem to notice the beaver initially and went to scent-mark some grass on the dam. After marking, the wolf scraped the ground, and this seemed to cause the beaver to retreat into the water off of the rock,” Galler said.

However, the noise of the beaver entering the water caused the wolf to change its behavior immediately. It plunged straight into the water and managed to catch the beaver entirely underwater.

Vermont Fish and Wildlife notes that while humans have had the greatest impact on beaver populations, wolves, mountain lions, black bears, coyotes, bobcats, and fishers will also occasionally prey on the large rodent. However, they are most susceptible to predation on land; once they make it to water, their odds of surviving are much greater. That’s partially why this video is so shocking.

In the clip, the beaver is audibly vocalizing after being ripped from the water in the mouth of the wolf. “You could hear the bones cracking as well, likely from the bite force of the wolf,” Galler said.

The wolf caught a whiff of Galler from the stand, dropped the beaver, and disappeared into the forest. But two pups quickly came to claim the soggy, oversized rodent prize.

This is the first time a wolf targeting a beaver underwater in this manner has been caught on film. The success of this hunt, however, might hinge on the fact that the beaver was a kit, likely six or seven months old. If the wolf attacked a full-grown and more predator-wary beaver, the results may have differed.

Feature video taken by Jon Galler via Voyagers Wolf Project Facebook Page. (View in fullscreen for best picture.)

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