An explanation of why wolves kill more than they can eat.

Source: The Truth About Wolf Surplus Killing: Survival, Not Sport What gets called “surplus killing” actually isn’t, it’s killing for future feeding By: Wes Siler Apr 5, 2016

You probably saw the headlines a couple weeks ago when a pack of wolves near Jackson, Wyoming, killed 19 elk in a single night. The event was blown up by CNN, The Guardian, and others as an example of the threat re-introduced wolf populations in the American west present to game and livestock. But I knew there must be more to it than just big bad wolf fears, so I started digging.
“We’re not sure what triggers surplus killing,” regional wildlife supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department John Lund told USA Today, “In many cases, predators will kill with the intent to eat, but in this case, something triggered, and they went crazy, and just took down each elk, and moved onto the next.”
Why do wolves kill more animals than they can eat? I think I just found out. And it’s not because they’re crazy. 

The first thing this event reminded me of was the Chinese movie Wolf Totem. The story follows two young men who are sent from Beijing to Mongolia to teach rural herders about communism. Those herders live peacefully with the wolves who occasionally prey on their livestock, accepting it as nature’s balance. At one point in the movie, the wolves drive a herd of elk into deep snow, killing them, but also preserving their carcasses for future use throughout the harsh winter. It got me wondering about the incident in Wyoming, and whether storing meat for future use could be a real behavior of wolves here in North America. Click here to read more.


Featured image by: John E Marriott Photography



Doug Smith of the Wolf Restoration Project in Yellowstone Discuses the Question of Surplus Killing: Do wolves kill for sport, or kill more than they can eat?

 Q & A: Wolves, Doug Smith  Wolves do not kill for sport. But will they kill more than they can immediately eat? The answer is yes if the conditions are right and they will come back to eat off the kills. (Paraphrased from Doug Smith’s answer) 

Doug Smith is the project leader for the Wolf Restoration Project in Yellowstone and has been with the program since its inception. Doug has studied wolves for over 20 years. Prior to Yellowstone, he worked with wolves in Michigan (Isle Royale National Park) and Minnesota. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Biology from the University of Idaho, a Master of Science in Biology from Michigan Technological University, and a PhD from the University of Nevada, Reno in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology.

Watch the following video for full interview 

Click on the following sentence highlighted in blue to watch just the segment on surplus killing. Scroll down to: Do wolves kill for sport, or kill more than they can eat?

Do wolves kill for sport, or kill more than they can eat? Click HERE


Featured image by John E Marriott Photography