Wolf Pups Filmed Wandering Minnesota Wilderness in Striking Footage

A "striking" video showing four gray wolf pups wandering the Minnesota wilderness has been captured by researchers at the University of Minnesota.

The footage, filmed in October by university-run research group the Voyageurs Wolf Project, confirms that all pups from one litter survived the hardest period in the year for young wolves.

The pups belong to a pack of that roams along the Cranberry Bay part of Voyageurs National Park. The pack had a total of four pups in the breeding season, but the group suspected one had died—until this video surfaced.

Breeding season for gray wolves is from late January until March and the gestation period is around ten weeks. In the first year following birth, gray wolf pups often die during the summer and the fall because of starvation.

Project leader Thomas Gable told Newsweek that it is "uncommon" for all wolf pups within a pack to survive until adulthood. He said wolf pups can die for many reasons, including disease, poaching and predation from other wolves.

Gable said in late summer and early fall, wolf pups are getting larger and approaching adult size, however, are still incapable of hunting prey for themselves. This means they continue to rely on adult wolves, who have to find a lot of food for themselves as well as the pups.

"[It's] a lean period for wolves in our area because many of their prey are in good physical condition and are challenging for wolves to kill," he said. "As a result, wolves sometimes are not able to get enough food to provision pups and many pups die during this time."

In the video, the four pups can be seen wandering around a bit of woodland in the fall. One of them lies down and begins playfully rolling around in the fallen leaves.

Wolves
The video shows four wolf pups foraging in the wilderness. Voyageurs Wolf Project/Facebook

In a Facebook post, the project said the footage was "pretty cool" as the camera trap was set up in a particularly remote area of the Voyageurs National Park, meaning they were not sure it would be successful.

"We had never put a camera here before and had no idea if it would be successful ... more times than not 'experimental cameras' like this aren't," the post said. "Figuring out where Cranberry Bay wolves routinely travel is tough given the scarcity of human trails (hiking, snowmobiles, etc) in their territory.

"As such reliably getting footage of the pack can be tough. But, much to our delight the wolves used the trail. Even a single high-quality observation like this makes putting the camera out worthwhile."

The Voyageurs National Park has a population of between 30 and 50 wolves, divided into six to nine packs. The Voyageurs Wolf Project focuses on one of the "biggest knowledge gaps in wolf ecology," which is what wolves do during the summer. They do this by attaching GPS tags to the wolves and setting up trail cameras.

The project said tracking the Cranberry Bay wolves is "tough" because of their remote territory, however a sighting such as this makes it all worthwhile.