HomeOutdoorsViralRare Footage Shows Wolf in Hot Pursuit of Elk in Grand Teton National Park

Rare Footage Shows Wolf in Hot Pursuit of Elk in Grand Teton National Park

by Jon D. B.
gray wolf chasing prey
grey wolf (Canis lupus) running in meadow. grassland. (Photo by: Sven-Erik Arndt/Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Naturalist Bo Welden says this near-40 mph chase between a wolf and elk remains one of his favorite moments he’s ever caught on film as a tour guide for Jackson Hole Ecotours. It’s not hard to see why once experiencing it for yourself.

Recently, Welden’s clip has gone viral, garnering attention across the internet. Resharing the favorite footage of his, Welden lauds that “This is still one of my favorite moments while guiding with Jackson Hole Ecotours. Wolves from a little known pack here in the Tetons make slow moves towards a herd of elk,” he describes.

“Risking a prediction on what the wolves would do next, we changed positions and were rewarded with this epic hunt just behind our vehicle!” Which is exactly what you’ll see in his Grand Teton National Park spectacle. Take a look:

“There is an undeniable power in both these species of animals and to see it firing on all cylinders was beyond incredible. Guides and guests wait for moments like this for years, so I felt very lucky to have witnessed this one,” Welden offers on his Instagram.

Speaking to HuffPost on Thursday, he adds that he’s “seen wolves many times. But to see them in an entire hunt over a quarter-mile unbroken by anything, that’s exceptionally rare for being down in the Tetons.”

Nature Rules the Hunt: How Elk Escape the Wolf

The high speed chase ends in victory for the elk as she reaches a river. “Wolves aren’t great at pursuing their prey in water,” Weldon says. This doesn’t mean wolves can’t swim, however. Gray wolves have been documented swimming an astounding 8 miles. Some have even evolved into coastal sub-species that spend most of their lives either around or in water hunting fish and other marine prey.

North American elk, or wapiti, running from a predator. (Photo by Harry Collins via Getty Images)

The elk also had speed and stamina on her side. While gray wolves top out around 37 miles-per-hour, North American elk, or wapiti, can exceed 40 mph, giving them the slight edge they need to escape predators. Herbivores are also built to run long distances and possess great stamina, whereas carnivores like wolves use up their caloric intake in fast sprints. This is one reason why hunter success rate is surprisingly low in nature.

Cats Out-Hunt Every Canine Species Except One

In fact, the gray wolf (Canis Lupus) is typically assigned a hunt success rate that is lower than 20%. Meaning, of course, that 80% or more of their hunts end in failure. This may come as a shock to us humans, considering the wolf was our predominant competition for resources across the majority of our existence. But it’s true nonetheless.

For other mid-sized mammals, like African lion. The lynxes of North America are some of our most successful hunters as a result.

If you want a newfound respect for your housecat, though, you’ll find it in their hunt success rate. Domestic cats have a wild hunt success rate of 35% or higher. Indeed, feline species nearly all hold higher success rates than canines. But there’s one canine species that holds the highest rate on the planet: African wild dogs.

Astoundingly, these mid-sized African canines hold a hunt success rate of 85% or higher. How’s that for a resume topper?

To find out more about park wildlife, see our Top 10 Things to Know About Grand Teton National Park next.