Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gray Wolf Catches Salmon; Copies from the Grizzly Bear

The gray wolf has been viewed as the master when it comes to using teamwork. A highly social and determined hunter, it possesses tremendous endurance and stamina when it comes to hunting. Packs of these predators have been known to chase their prey for miles and miles until it tires out. Its mortal enemy, the grizzly bear, is the undisputed heavy-weight champion of the North American backwoods. While it is purely omnivorous and spends much of its time on berries and roots, the grizzly bear has mastered the art of patience in fishing. This is best seen when it stands in the middle of a stream, and waiting for salmon to swim against the current. Once the fish takes a leap out of the water, the bear immediately lunges towards it and gobbles it up in its jaws.

It seems that both the gray wolf and the grizzly bear are great examples of hunters in the western world. Each having its own unique technique when it comes to looking for food. But what if one of them by chance copied another one's technique? This example was seen recently in Alaska's Katmai National Park. There, a gray wolf spotted a grizzly bear peacefully fishing for salmon at a place called Brooks Falls and decided to try its luck. Surprisingly, none of the two enemies noticed each other. Like the bear, the wolf waited for the salmon, and when the moment came, it lunged for it and caught the fish in its jaws. This unusual behavior was captured by Paul Stinsa, a wildlife photographer from Chicago. He insisted that there was no trickery in his photography. This behavior even caught the eye of Ranger Peter Hamel, who stated that he had never seen anything like this before. Experts believe that the wolf copied the bear's fishing method, and successfully made a catch.

I'm simply blown away by this discovery. Usually a wolf would hunt in packs and bring down prey as powerful as a moose or bison, but this time, it went for something which does not regularly fall on its menu. Furthermore, how is it possible that a wolf could imitate the art of fishing from the grizzly bear? Normally, this behavior is associated with primates where it is often seen among young chimpanzees who would copy their parents when trying to build a shelter or forage for food. I think maybe part of this behavior may be that both the wolf and the bear, though separate species, evolved from the same ancestor(s). Both animals are part of suborder called caniformia, which consists of dog-like carnivores. However, I think this discovery maybe a key for scientists and researchers to study both the animals closely and come up with some more scientific proof to show that they are in a sense related to each other. But all in all, this truly is an amazing discovery which is worth investigating.

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