Watch A Massive Elk And Wolf Battle In A River With Roaring Rapids

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Written by Kirstin Harrington

Updated: November 9, 2023

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boiling river yellowstone
Cody Linde/

There is so much beauty to see in the world and plenty of it can be spotted in Yellowstone National Park. It is understandable why Yellowstone was chosen as America’s first national park. 

It is home to an unparalleled blend of natural splendor, untamed wildlife, breathtaking peaks, plentiful animals, and the biggest concentration of geysers and thermal phenomena on the planet!

Two animals that roam the grounds of this beloved park are gray wolves and elk. Now, these two creatures aren’t necessarily the best of friends. In fact, they’re natural enemies. A recent video uploaded to Youtube shows us just how intense it can be when they cross paths.

The show starts with a lone elk standing in a raging river within the national park. Elk make considerable use of river systems and drainages during the summer. These spots offer thermal protection, and late-summer food, and are frequently employed as pathways as they travel.

Another reason you may spot an elk in a river is to get away from a predator! The rushing and raging bodies of water are thought to protect them from animals like wolves. As the video continues, we see a wolf make its way down the side of a hill and scope out the area.

tibetan mastiff vs wolf

A gray wolf running in the snow. These

gray animals

are pack animals, organized into distinctive hierarchies within their wolf packs.

The gray wolf can be seen trying to figure out how to get to the elk without getting into the river. Around the three-minute mark of the footage, you’ll notice the wolf running to one side of the water. 

Making An Escape

The wolf is no longer intimidated, as the elk is close enough to reach. Wolves have special behavioral, intellectual, and mental traits that help them in their hunting activity in addition to their physical advantages for catching hoofed mammals. 

Wolves are equally as good as or better than domestic dogs in learning new things. They can use sight to direct emphasis on other wolves’ gaze patterns. Because wolves aren’t vocal when hunting, using the gaze of another wolf can be incredibly significant. 

yellowstone gray wolf

Gray wolves are considered to be highly social animals that form tight, nuclear packs. 

The poor elk makes an attempt to escape and reaches a decent distance, but cannot keep up with the speed of a hungry wolf. At one point, the wolf can be spotted jumping on top of the elk as the pair float down the river. 

A comment on the video points out the undeniable willpower of the elk. It reads, “The tenacity in survival. That water had to be unbearably frigid, yet both beasts endured it to try to stay alive.”

As the person’s words allude, the elk managed to survive! Whether the wolf got tired or injured in the pursuit is unknown. What we do know is that this elk did an amazing job fighting for its life and lives to see another day because of that. 

Is It Normal For a Lone Wolf to Attack an Elk in a River?

Wolves usually hunt larger game as a pack to increase their chances of a successful hunt.

Elk usually congregate in herds, so this scene may have surprised you, given this lone elk was standing in the water. Elk herds are often made up of a dominant bull along with females and calves, referred to as a harem. During seasons where mating is not taking place, it’s not uncommon for males to be found alone, or adversely in small groups of males. It’s hard to determine if the elk in the video is a male, but that could explain why it’s alone.

Is it normal for a lone wolf to attack a lone elk, especially under these circumstances? Probably not. Wolves usually attack a larger animal as a pack, and even in that scenario, their success rate of taking down an adult is 20%. A lone wolf taking down a lone wolf has a success rate of 3%. Now consider the fact this wolf is attacking an elk in water that is over its head in places. Would your average wolf try this stunt? We think not.

Other Amazing Animal Videos You May Like

A lone lion can be seen clinging precariously to a tree while a herd of buffalo hangs around close by. But lions are nothing if not resourceful. The feline predator makes it to the ground and a safe distance. And then as though seeking to soothe its wounded pride runs in the direction of the herd. But one of the horned protectors is waiting and sees it off. The lion tries again with the same results.

Watch this lion escape the horns of a waiting herd of buffalo

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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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