|Wolves are important to their environments because when they hunt, they take down the weaker animals. This ensures that healthy genetics are passed on to future generations of their prey and helps stop the spread of disease within their prey groups. Their hunting also helps scavengers in the same area find food – they’ll go after whatever the wolves leave behind.1
When wolves hunt, they usually do so in a group. Going after an ungulate like an elk would be difficult for one wolf to do alone, but having the whole pack work together enables them to take down bigger prey.
Most canids that are carnivores live and hunt in packs. Other canids that are omnivores tend to be solitary. Coyotes and foxes, however, are an exception. They often are solitary hunters, not pack hunters.2
Canids aren’t the only ones who hunt in a group. Lions, who are the only social felids, also hunt in a pack.3 While these animals probably could take down prey by themselves, there are usually other benefits to hunting as a group. For example, taking down bigger prey as a group provides more food for everyone for less energy than it would if every individual had to hunt their own meal. Another benefit tends to be that they have a higher success rate when they work together.3
When they hunt as a pack, wolves and other canids need to cooperate in order to be successful. African Wild Dogs, for example, will work together to chase their prey to run down its energy. Then they’ll make their attack to bring it down.4 Wolves work in a similar way, following their prey and trying to get the upper hand until they make their move. This is especially true when wolves pursue a whole group of ungulates. They’ll wait until a weaker member slows down or stumbles, and then they’ll take it down.1
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