Trail Cam Video: Wolf Fishing in Northern Minnesota

Did you know that a wolf will catch and eat fish when given the opportunity? This trail cam video proves it!

Trail Cam Video: Wolf Fishing in Northern Minnesota

The 3.5-minute YouTube video below was posted by the Voyageurs Wolf Project, which is a University of Minnesota research project trying to answer the question: What do wolves do during the summer?

The group is studying wolves in northern Minnesota. Quote from their website: “Specifically, we want to understand the predation behavior and reproductive ecology (e.g., number of pups born, where wolves have dens, etc) of wolves during the summer.”

Below you’ll see a few days of trail cam footage: The following text was posted with the video to help explain the scenario:

Some amazing footage of the breeding female of the Windsong Pack hunting fish over the past few days. All this wolf has done over the past few weeks is fish and spend time with her pups, who are starting their young lives as pescatarians it seems!

The footage is particularly neat because it shows her lying down on a small island in the middle of the river to wait-in-ambush for fish. As she waits, her ears are constantly flickering and twitching as she tries to detect fish breaking the surface of the water.

Cueing in on the sound of fish splashing in water appears to be one of the primary ways wolves hunt fish in our area.

In one sequence, she catches a fish just as it goes down a rapids. She briefly kills the fish and then carries it away. Her GPS-collar data shows that shortly after her catch she went back to the den, presumably to provision the pups.

And Wolf O4D, the breeding female, is not alone in her fishing ways. We know of three other packs that have been hunting fish over the past few weeks.

This is now the seventh year we have documented this behavior, and every year we document more individuals from different social groups fishing … all of which indicates fishing is a widespread behavior of wolves in northern Minnesota and likely similar boreal ecosystems!

Author’s note: I’m far from a wolf expert. I have observed them several times in the wild, and once watched two mature wolves — one black, one gray — hang around a black bear bait site in southern Manitoba. The wolves stood under my 12-foot-tall ladder stand for a minute; they never looked up. It was a thrill! I enjoyed this video, but I can’t say I’m convinced this wolf’s ears “are constantly flickering and twitching as she tries to detect fish breaking the surface of the water.” If you’ve ever been in the forest of northern Minnesota during spring, you know the bugs can be bad. I’m thinking a high percentage of the ear movement is related to being bothered by biting insects.


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