Wolves are amongst the most majestic animals in North America, symbolic of American beauty and free spirit.
Once pushed to the brink of extinction, certain species of wolves (like gray wolves) have been making recoveries thanks to the Endangered Species Act. And in recent years, researchers have learned more about wolves than ever before.
A new paper was published in the Royal Society of Open Science journal about wolves ‘fishing’ for freshwater fish. Thanks to trail cameras, GPS collars, and even a first-person account of the behavior, we know know fishing is a widespread behavior for wolves.
Footage of wolves fishing for ‘spawning suckers’ in Minnesota was captured leading to a research study spanning 2017 to present day. Here, we see wolves fishing for freshwater fish in shallow streams and rivers, a behavior that was first thought to be just ‘neat’ but turned out to be a integral part of wolf behavior.
The Voyageurs Wolf Project paper published in the Royal Society of Open Science journal outlines the fishing behavior.
Since the wolves were first observed ‘fishing‘ in 2017, they have been seen replicating that behavior every year since except for 2022 when there was catastrophic flooding which would have made fishing for the spawning suckers too difficult.
Under the YouTube video, the researchers outlined their tactics for observing this behavior. Stating they “sed an assortment of approaches to document this behavior including GPS-collar data, a single firsthand observation, trail cameras deployed at creeks, and a camera collar deployed on a wolf.”
It went on to say “Using all this info, we have observed wolves from 5 different packs (and one lone wolf!) catching fish at various creeks and rivers in our area. The wolves in many of these packs are almost certainly unrelated and it is not like one “smart” fishing wolf is teaching all the wolves in the area to fish.”
The Voyageurs Wolf Project believes this behavior isn’t specific to just Minnesota. They suggest the fishing behavior is also happening “in places like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and beyond each and every year.”