Wolf vs. Mama Bear and Cubs

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OK, so it’s more of a schoolyard taunt and less of an out-and-out brawl, but USGS motion-triggered cameras caught an interaction between a large black wolf and a bear sow with two cubs in Glacier National Park. Their paths crossed in a clearing near an elk carcass both parties had fed on at separate times.

Yes! The mother bear is obviously not pleased, and she expresses this by chuffing and bluff charging her lupine antagonist. But the wolf sometimes seems to just be merrily horsing off, seeing how close he can nip at the cubs without getting caught. And as the cubs practice their own swipes and bluff charges, it looks like they’re treating it as play also.

But the behaviors at heart are dead serious: USGS research biologist Kate Kendall told AP, “I have no doubt that if the mom was not there and the wolf had the opportunity, it would eat the cub.” Eeek.

The remote, motion-triggered cameras are part of a larger effort by the USGS to monitor the progress of grizzly bear recovery in Glacier. Documenting wolf-bear interaction is quite rare — this is sort of like the nature equivalent of Lance Armstrong going head-to-head with Muhammad Ali and two of his kids. Good stuff.

— Ted Alvarez

Video: wolf-bear interaction at elk carcass (USGS)

Video captures wolf, grizzly bear interaction (AP)

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