ELY, Minn. (FOX 9) - Researchers with the Voyageurs Wolf Project in Voyageurs National Park have recently published research proving, for the first time in modern science, that wolves in northern Minnesota fish in streams during the spring spawning season.
The research published earlier this summer outlines how researchers have captured video of wolves fishing in shallow streams during a very short period of time in spring.
"It’s awesome," University of Minnesota masters student and researcher on the project, Dani Freund said. "I’m super proud of it and our team as a whole definitely."
Freund and other researchers with the project observed wolves fishing in shallow streams, typically downstream from beaver dams, for five summers in a row. They even captured some of the behavior on trail cameras, providing visual evidence of their findings.
A wolf captured on trail camera fishing in a stream. (Voyageurs Wolf Project)
"That showed that wolves seemed to be fishing for freshwater fish way more than we originally thought, and it’s likely an important resource to them," Freund said.
Trail cameras also helped researchers capture behavior that usually only lasts for a few short weeks in the spring, sometimes only for a few days at a time, typically under the cover of darkness, in the early morning hours, when fish are the most active.
"It only happens in this short time, so you have to catch it when it’s happening. You have to track where the wolves are and find if they’re fishing or not, and get it before it’s over, which is difficult," Freund said.
Technology has become an important part of the Voyageurs Wolf Project. The project has been going on for about a decade thanks, in part, to support from the Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund. With the help of GPS tracking and trail cameras, researchers have been able to capture animal behavior in the wild like never before.
"The trail cameras have really kind of revolutionized our ability to understand wolves because we can actually see them," Tom Gable, the project lead for the Voyageurs Wolf Project said. "The video footage is becoming more and more important as time goes on, and we’re starting to realize the real power and value of having video observations from trail cameras."