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Voyageurs Park Wolves Eating Beaver and Blueberries, but not Moose

posted Apr 9, 2019, 8:38 PM by chloe owens

12/5/2018, by John Myers, Brainerd Dispatch

Voyageurs Park wolves eating beaver and blueberries, but not moose

When they aren’t identifying record large trees in the forest, Thomas Gable and Austin Homkes’ day job is wolf research, trying to untangle the complex, mostly unknown relationship between wolves and beaver in Voyageurs National Park. Researchers have known for decades that wolves eat beaver, but not how much. What Gable and Homkes found is that some wolves are getting nearly half their summer meals from beaver. “We’ve seen some packs at 8-to-10 percent beaver in their summer diet to as much as 42 percent for one pack,” Gable said. At any one time there are six to eight wolf packs using at least part of Voyageurs National Park in their home range. Those packs average about five wolves per pack. Researchers had collars on 18 different wolves this past summer out of a total of 30 to 40 animals. The abundance of beaver in the area may be taking some of the predator pressure off of the park’s moose herd. While not a large population — there are about 40-50 moose in the park at any one time — the park’s moose numbers have remained stable while their numbers have crashed across nearly all of Minnesota’s moose range…But it’s already clear, the researchers say, that many wolves in the park choose to hunt and eat beaver in the summer instead of moose and deer…The research, which offers a new GPS-pinpoint location of each collared wolf 72 times a day, has found other surprising news. The park’s wolves eat blueberries. Lots of them. Most of the wolf packs have been found to spend extended periods of time in July and August, during peak blueberry season, foraging in blueberry patches.