In a rare moment of cooperation between predators, a bear and wolf have been spotted teaming up to attack a mother moose and her young calf.
A video captured by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve shows a brown bear lunging for the adult moose, while a wolf chases after the mother’s calf.
“Prey and predators collide in this trail camera clip captured by remote camera near Gustavus in Glacier Bay National Park during an ADF&G wolf predation study,” ADF&G, Southeast Alaska said in a Facebook post, sharing the video. “Witness the intense moment when prey and predators come face-to-face in this clip! This camera was perfectly positioned along a popular animal travel corridor, giving us a front-row seat to Mother Nature’s drama.”
Both brown bears and wolves are commonly found throughout Alaska. There are thought to be between 7,000 and 11,000 wolves in the state, according to the ADF&G, and they usually live in packs of 20 to 30 with a strong social hierarchy. The wolves’ primary food source is moose, but they also hunt and eat other animals, including sheep, squirrels, snowshoe hares, and beavers.
Unlike wolves, brown bears—which include grizzly bears—are usually solitary, living and hunting alone, except for when females are accompanied by their cubs. There are around 30,000 of these bears in the state, making up 98 percent of the U.S. population, and more than 70 percent of the North American population. These bears are omnivorous, eating vegetation and berries, as well as salmon and larger prey like moose.
In the comments, some posted that the two predators were working together. “Dang. Bears and wolves working together??,” one commenter wrote. “It does look coordinated … but impossible to know for sure,” the ADF&G replied.
Rick Steiner, a conservationist and environmental consultant, said that the two predators likely weren’t working together directly, but knew that the other was present. “The bear was certainly aware of the wolf; the wolf was certainly aware of the bear,” Steiner told Live Science.
Moose with calves are a prime target for predators, as they are much more defenseless than adults. Adult moose can grow up to 1,200 pounds, and stand as tall as 6 feet at the shoulder. Alaska is home to between 175,000 and 200,000 moose.
Steiner said that the wolf may have been waiting in the wings for the bear to attack, taking advantage of the mother moose being distracted before attacking the calf.
The adult moose can be seen putting up a good fight immediately: these animals have extremely powerful kicks and attempt to crush attacking predators with their hooves.
The outcome of the fight is unknown, however, as the video ends without revealing the fates of the moose and her calf. Steiner is optimistic, however, saying that the moose would have fended off the bear before chasing after the wolf and defending her calf.
“I’d put my money on the moose in that one,” Steiner added. “An adult moose is a formidable adversary for anything.”
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This article by Jess Thomson was first published by Newsweek on 11 September 2023. Lead Image: Dave Conley/Canoethewild.