A Minnesota trail cam captured footage of not one but three incredibly rare black wolves.
Last December, The Voyageurs Wolf Project shared a video of the striking animal on Youtube. In the caption, the organization explained that it caught another video of the animal a few months prior, but the newest is “arguably” the “best footage of a black wolf [the] project has captured!”
“In September, we shared footage of a lone black wolf traveling down a dirt road,” the caption continues. “This video was viewed almost 1 million times across our social media. We think this is the same wolf. Of course, it is hard to know for certain but this black wolf has a white blaze on its chest just like the wolf in the September video, and the blaze looks very similar. … But regardless, pretty neat footage, especially since black wolves are relatively rare in our area!”
The Wolf May be Part of an ‘Almost Entirely’ Black Pack
And black wolves are rare indeed. In the entire world, there are only about 200,000 in existence. And in Minnesota, only around 1.5 % of the population dons the beautiful dark coat.
Black wolves are technically a gray wolf species, but their fur is darker because of a gene mutation that scientists believe originated from domestic dogs in the Old World, according to the National Park Service.
“The origin of the K-locus in wolves likely came from hybridization between dogs and wolves in northwest North America within the last 7,000 years as early humans brought domestic dogs across the Bering Land Bridge,” the service shared.
Surprisingly, the project was able to catch more rare wolves only a few weeks later. Specialists believe the animals make up an and “almost entirely” black pack, “which is quite rare for Minnesota.”
The caption shares that biologists believe there has been an uptick in occurrences in the area over the past 70 years. And the International Wolf Center writes that in some U.S. states, the population is much higher. For example, in Yellowstone National Park, around half of the wolves are black.
“Whether this indicates a biologically meaningful or even a statewide trend is hard to say but definitely is intriguing,” the second caption reads. “Notably, the pack in the video is not in our study area—the Greater Voyageurs Ecosystem—but just outside of it! A member of the public shared the footage with us and we thought it quite exceptional given the prevalence of black wolves. The most black wolves in a pack we have documented is 1. I.e., we have never captured anything like this!”