Epic Wilderness Clash: Grizzly Bears and Wolves Lock Horns in Thrilling Showdown Over Caribou Carcass

In this edition of The Rewind, a photographer recounts the time he captured a stunning series of photos of grizzlies and wolves competing for a caribou carcass in Alaska

Wildlife photographer Donald M. Jones was shooting photography in Denali National Park, Alaska in September of 2004 when he captured the story shown in the series of images below. Some wolves had killed a bull caribou when a sow grizzly with two cubs spotted them and chased them off the kill.

What is the relationship between grizzly bears and wolves in the wild? Do they ever fight each other for food, territory, or mates? If so, how often does this happen? - Quora

Eventually, the wolves reclaimed their kill only to be chased off again by an even larger boar grizzly. We recently caught up with Jones to get a recap of the events leading up to the photos.

“I came over Stony Pass and around a bend, and I saw wolves and a grizzly bear and a caribou carcass down in the East Fork River,” he recalled. “The wolves had killed this bull caribou sometime the night before. This sow grizzly with these yearling cubs came along and took it over. She kept charging the wolves, and they stayed back a ways while she fed with the cubs.”

Jones said he watched from the side of the road with a small group of fellow photographers while the drama unfolded. He remained there for a full day and a half until the sow and her two cubs got their fill of caribou meat.

“Finally, the mother grizzly and her cubs left,” he said. “The wolves were elated. They came running back in to reclaim their kill. But they weren’t back on the carcass for more than a half hour when this big boar came running in from the other direction.”

As Jones watched, the boar chased the wolf pack off once again and laid claim to what was left of the carcass. “He went and gathered all the body parts,” he said. “Then he put them all in a big pile and laid on top of it and went to sleep. It was quite the scene.”

Travis Hall is the associate news editor for Field & Stream. He has been with F&S since August 2022. Before that he worked as a freelance journalist homing in on hunting, fishing, and conservation-related topics.

 

 

He’s originally from southern Indiana but spent time living in Yellowstone National Park, along the Carolina coast, and in the southern Appalachian Mountains before moving to his current home in western Montana.

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