Watch Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Steal Food From Pack of Wolves

A video showing a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park taking a freshly killed elk from a pack of wolves has been released by the National Park Service (NPS).

Footage shows the wolves pursuing a herd of elk with a grizzly bear following nearby. The bear appeared to have been traveling alongside the Junction Butte wolf pack on October 21, 2021. The video was taken by a park biologist and shared by the NPS on the Yellowstone National Park Facebook page in December.

The wolf pack chased after different groups of elk as they separated from the main herd. One of the packs managed to take down and kill a cow elk. But as they begin to feast on the carcass, the bear charges in and takes the kill, in what is known as kleptoparasitism.

"Typically, wolves will yield to incoming bears. Since hunting is dangerous and often unsuccessful, it's better for wolves to wait their turn at a carcass that has been usurped by a bear than it is for them to continue hunting," Yellowstone National Park wrote in a Facebook post. "From the bear's perspective, it takes a lot of energy to follow a wolf pack around, but the reward is high if it successfully takes over a carcass.

"A fresh elk carcass is a wonderful source of fat and protein for a grizzly bear preparing for hibernation. This bear seems to have figured out that following the wolves in the morning will increase its chances of encountering a high-calorie meal."

Wolves and grizzly bears are the main predators in Yellowstone. Since wolves were reintroduced to the park in the 1990s, park biologists have been able to observe their interactions. In February 2020 Doug Smith, leader of the Yellowstone Wolf Project, said more grizzlies had been turning up at wolf dens, attracted to the kills they bring back for younger pack members.

"It's almost like the wolves are the mosquitoes buzzing around the bear's head," Smith told yellowstonepark.com. "Although individual mosquitoes can't overpower you, if there are enough of them, they'll win. That's sometimes what happens with grizzlies and wolves. The bear gets near the den, and wolves just annoy the heck out of him.

"The wolves in Yellowstone won't give up. They just constantly orbit around the bear. I've actually seen one wolf bite a bear in the butt when he turned around."

Smith said that when it comes to elk killed by wolves, grizzly bears often take their spoils. In one case, a bear held off 24 wolves over an elk carcass. He said bears have benefited from the presence of wolves in the park from being able to take their kills.

Most grizzly bears in Yellowstone are now hibernating. They tend to start emerging from their dens in early February. Wolves are preparing for mating season, which normally takes place in mid-February, with cubs being born mid-April.

grizzly bear yellowstone
Stock photo of a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. A bear was filmed stealing a carcass killed by a pack of wolves in the park in October, 2021. Getty Images