In footage shared on Facebook by the Alaska Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Southeast Alaska office, a mother moose and her calf are seen walking in front of a trail camera at night.
Shortly after walking by the camera, a bear appears from the background and attacks, prompting the moose cow to fight back instantly. Within a couple of seconds, a wolf appears as it runs behind the combatants, making a beeline to where the lone calf is, just off camera.
As Live Science explains, brown bears and wolves will both sometimes predate on young moose.
However, seeing both a bear and a wolf trying to make the same kill is exceedingly rare. Further, although it is easy to mistake the coordinated attack as evidence of cooperation, it is likely just a wild coincidence.
“It’s this fantastic, phenomenal dynamic going on in wild Alaska that makes this place so special,” says Rick Steiner, a conservationist who has worked in Alaska for many years.
Per Live Science, Steiner adds that the two animals, while not doing tag-team hunting, were undoubtedly aware of each other. “The bear was certainly aware of the wolf; the wolf was certainly aware of the bear.”
Steiner explains that the wolf, which was potentially hunting in a pack with other wolves, may have been following the brown bear, waiting for an opportunity to strike on unsuspecting prey.
While it is unclear which animal came out on top in the battle, Steiner says he would “put my money on the moose.”
An adult female moose weighs between 800 and 1,300 pounds (364 to 591 kilograms) on average, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF). While the ADF notes that brown bears, black bears, and wolves all hunt and kill moose of all ages, Steiner says an adult moose has the upper hand against bears, especially in this case, as the attacking bear is probably not a fully grown adult.
As for the wolf and moose calf, Steiner thinks that the mother moose likely chased down the wolf as it pursued the calf and defended her young. “An adult moose is a formidable adversary for anything,” says Steiner.
Image credits: Featured image from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game