Why are Yellowstone wolves biting grizzly bears’ butts?
For the second time this month, a Yellowstone National Park tourist took pictures of a wolf biting the bum of a grizzly bear.
At first, the behavior was understandable in early September because, according to photographer Gary Gaston, a moose carcass was nearby and wolves don't like to share with grizzlies (or vice versa).
This footage, showing the young wolf snapping the bear several times, was shot at daybreak in Crystal Creek, near Slough Creek.
On September 10, six miles away in the Lamar Valley, Gaston taped accompanying footage showing another black yearling biting the bum of a grizzly bear while the bear searched for roots and grass shoots. (The bite occurs after 37 seconds.)
Gaston told FTW Outdoors that he believed that ass-sipping was a different wolf, and it was certainly a different bear.
"The one-year-old wolf followed the grizzly for 3-4 minutes, then started nibbling the bear's bum," wrote Gaston on a Yellowstone-themed Facebook page. "Why that? The bear ate roots and didn't seem to pose a threat. But the wolf seemed intent on chewing bear's behind. It's hard to understand these stupid wolves."
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Yellowstone National Park spokeswoman Linda Veress told FTW Outdoors that biologists have observed this behavior and believe it may be related to competing for food or defending a pack's territory.
So in Gaston's video clips, both wolves are simply trying to convince the bears to leave, and it seems like a wise survival strategy for the smaller but faster canines to stay behind the much larger animals.
Both species are fierce competitors - especially if it's a moose or bison carcass - and not friendly to each other, as suggested in the Facebook comments.
–Grizzly Bear Image courtesy of Yellowstone National Park
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