If You Give a Moose a Tapeworm

What could possibly bring down an animal that stands seven feet and weighs 1500 pounds? Not much, right? Attempting to kill a moose comes with plenty of risks, but under the right circumstances, grey wolves (Canis lupus) can accomplish this feat. The wolves could have their skulls crushed by hooves or bodies pierced by antlers. So, for wolves to be successful at stalking and chasing moose, wolves must possess plenty of skills and a little bit of luck.

According to the Yellowstone Wolf Project Annual Report 2012, researchers detected 255 kills made by wolves during the year. Of those, only two were confirmed moose. Compare that number with 159 elk and you come to the realization that it must be easier to take down an elk. Wolves in Yellowstone don’t have anything to gain from hunting moose when there are plenty of elk. However, wolves that live in areas where there is no other prey must be careful. One strategy is to wait until the moose is already in trouble. For example, winter time may be an ideal time to find a moose in peril because of the lack of food and depth of snow. The energy demands are sometimes too great for the moose. Snowy conditions may not be the only factor that contributes to an energy-depleted moose. According to some research, the wolves may be getting help from an unexpected source.