When Wolves and Grizzlies Collide, Grizzlies Usually Win

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The Jackson Hole News & Guide has an interesting write up on the interaction between wolves and grizzly bears in Yellowstone. Yellowstone presents an opportunity to study how two large carnivores battle over downed game. Interesting it turns out that wolves don't always lose to the much larger grizzly bear.

During confrontations between wolves and bears, especially over food, bears in Yellowstone win roughly 80 percent of the time, Smith said. In other places such as Banff National Park in Canada, bears win a carcass about 50 percent of the time. The reason for the discrepancy is unclear, Park wolf biologist Doug Smith said. It’s usually male grizzly bears that will claim a carcass from wolves. Researchers have documented up to 12, and perhaps as many as 20, grizzly bears on a single kill, with wolves typically hanging around the periphery as “bystanders,” Smith said.


groovy mike's picture

Yep - sort of like lions and hyenas

That’s an impressive photograph. I can only imagine what twenty grizzly bears on a single kill would look like. Holy Smokes! That’s a lot of bruins! It’s literally TONS of bear!

"Lions and wolves and bears - oh, my!" is pretty funny Jerry – actually the first thing that came to mind for me when I was reading the article was that this is very similar to the way that lions and hyenas or jackals react and interact at kills of African game animals. When the article said that the wolves act as “bystanders” I think they are trying to find a polite way to say that the wolves are being relegated to the roll of scavenger when an aggressive bear is present. I don’t think it makes much difference who brought the game down to start with – when a grizzly bear shows up with attitude to match his size – he can be the biggest kid on the block and the wolves have little choice but to wait for him to leave and take whatever might be left. It is the natural order of things – and exactly why firearms made a civil version of civilization possible. Only with the addition of firearms can the weaker members of a population get an equal share of the bounty to be had when a bigger stronger competitor is around.

GooseHunter Jr's picture

I think I would much rather

I think I would much rather have all the grizzlies around than the wolves.  The grizzlies will eat what they will kill while the wolf will let alot of game meat go to waste. 

hunter25's picture

Intersting article on bear

Intersting article on bear and wolf behavior but nothing very surprising. I did think it was funny to hear them refer to woves as having a smoothing effect on the big game herds and being a good thing in managing them. A lot different than most of the things you read and a little hard to believe.

jaybe's picture

Yeah - but what if you throw

Yeah - but what if you throw lions into the mix.

 You know, "lions and wolves and bears - oh, my!"  :>)