Yellowstone wolves run down elk in rare ‘circle of life’ footage

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Like sheep dogs herding cattle, a pack of Yellowstone National Park wolves recently ran down dozens of elk before singling out one individual for a feast.

The footage below – grainy because it was captured from afar – shows the elk trying to stay grouped while fleeing as wolves hold positions at their rear and left flank.

Finally, at 32 seconds, one elk tires and strays from the herd and is converged upon, essentially ending the hunt. (Warning: An elk take-down is shown in the video.)

“The circle of life,” Yellowstone Wolf Tracker, an eco-tour agency that operates in the park, described Tuesday on Facebook. “We were fortunate enough to witness the Junction Butte Pack successfully complete a hunt in the Northern Range of Yellowstone.

“Only 10% of the time are wolves successful in their hunts so to be able to see the entire sequence unfold was incredibly special.”

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Michael Sypniewski, a Yellowstone Wolf Tracker guide, told FTW Outdoors that he captured the footage through a spotting scope from a mile away, explaining its grainy, surreal presentation.

The Junction Butte Pack is one of the most frequently observed wolf packs in Yellowstone National Park, largely because of its proximity to a main road.

But scenes like the one captured by Spyniewski are rarely observed or documented during Yellowstone day trips.

–Image showing some of the wolves pursuing elk is courtesy of Yellowstone Wolf Tracker