Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Wolves and Ravens

October 26, 2007
Some 8 or 10 years ago I attended an inspirational wolf lecture by photographer Jim Brandenburg who had filmed wolves on Ellesmere Island in northern Canada. I came away with an incredible respect for what it took to be near wolves, but one of Jim's statements given then has stayed with me even now; this was the idea that ravens would lead wolves to prey in the harshness of winter. The ravens were the far-reaching eyes for the predator and the reward of course was a shared prey.

Yellowstone wolves, particularly the Hayden Pack, don't seem to have the same appreciation for ravens as the Canadian wolves Jim had studied and filmed. Time and again I would see a member of the pack break loose and chase ravens off of the carcass, evidently not willing to share just yet.

The first image in this series is of alpha male 541M chasing ravens off his elk leg bone and here is the alpha female 540F seemingly unhappy with the ravens on this elk carcass. She not only chased, but barked and howled as the birds lifted off the carcass as she approached.

Often a great deal of energy seems to be spent on the "defense" of the carcass!

Here one of the pups chases ravens off... When the wolves had finally gorged and left the ravens swooped in and began feeding for themselves...