Nature is as raw and uncensored as it is beautiful, and Yellowstone National Park‘s wildlife frequently demonstrate both those qualities. Earlier this spring, one of the park’s wolf packs took down a young bull elk in brutally slow motion and a wildlife photographer captured the entire, gruesome kill on camera. The following video is not for the faint of heart.
According to Field & Stream, the clip above was captured by wildlife photographer Evan Watts. Watts states the elk’s takedown took place in Yellowstone’s Hayden Valley. Watts identified the wolves in the video as part of the park’s Wapiti Lake Wolf Pack.
By the time the clip begins, we can already tell the bull elk is exhausted. One dark-colored wolf latches onto the larger creature’s rear end, ripping into its flesh with its paws braced against the bull’s body. Another wolf grabs the elk by the throat while the rest of the pack nips at its sides and legs.
Reflecting on the experience of capturing the entire take down, Watts said, “I was in total shock when it happened. I had spent days on end looking for wolves every morning and every evening before this, hoping to watch them make a kill. I couldn’t believe what an incredible feat of nature I was witnessing when it happened.”
Elk Are A Popular Meal Choice for Yellowstone National Park Wolves
Despite the difference in size between the bull and the wolves attacking, elk are actually the most common meal choice for the predators. And because the National Park Service states 30,000 to 40,000 inhabit the park compared to 500 wolves, prey is plentiful.
According to the outlet, a wolf can put away quite a bit of an elk’s carcass at once. One wolf is capable of consuming 20% of its body weight immediately following a kill. Further, between 18 and 22 elk are killed by each of the park’s wolves per year on average.
As stated, elk are a wolf’s most common prey in the park. However, the outlet reports bison are becoming an increasingly common meal as well.
Oblivious Hikers Come Within Feet of Park’s Wolves
Because we already know Yellowstone National Park’s wolves are capable of some seriously ferocious attacks, a pair of hikers were extremely lucky one wolf pack was not on the hunt when they passed by.
A new viral video shows to tourists hiking Yellowstone’s open plains when, suddenly, a handful of wolves pop their heads up from behind some shrubbery.
“They have no clue,” the videographer states, dumbfounded. “Isn’t that funny,” she added.
This time, yes. However, it’s always a good idea while visiting Yellowstone National Park to be aware of the animals around you and keep your distance from the wildlife as much as possible.