Friday, March 25, 2016

Rescue helicopter captures rare wolf footage

By Will Wadley, KECI Weekend Anchor
Mar 24 2016
MISSOULA, Mont. - 
A video that has surfaced online features rare footage of a standoff between a bull elk and a Montana wolf pack. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife manager Mike Thompson says it is probably the best footage of its kind he's ever seen.

"The thing that is really unusual about this is that somebody captured it, and somebody had the opportunity to witness it," Thompson said. "It happens every day, but we don't get to see it every day."

The footage was captured last month by advanced cameras aboard Flathead-based Two Bear Air's rescue helicopter as it flew over the Camas Creek area.

When the video starts, a bull elk can be seen standing in a stream with a trail of blood behind it, which could indicate the elk has already been attacked.

It is when the camera is zoomed out and switched to infrared mode that the elk's dire situation becomes apparent. A pack of wolves can be seen surrounding the elk, many of them sitting patiently.

"Predators, in general, in some form or fashion, need to be patient," Thompson said. "Even the ambushing predators need to be patient. They will pass up lots of possibilities as they try to figure out what a real opportunity is."

Thompson said there have been no known conflicts in many decades between humans and wolves in Montana, but he said the video can serve as a reminder as conditions for hiking improve that other predators like bears and mountain lions are also becoming more active.