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Watch: Wolf and ‘really lazy’ brown bear tiff over lunch in Denali National Park

  • Author: Laurel Andrews
  • Updated: June 16, 2017
  • Published June 16, 2017

What do you get when you take a wolf, a caribou carcass and a sleepy bear?

A dang good video.

"I still can't believe we saw that," said Anchorage resident Tim Peters. "It was pretty unreal."

Peters took the video of a bear and wolf having a seemingly casual tiff over a caribou carcass June 11 on the Teklanika River, around Mile 29 of the road into Denali National Park.

Peters, 25, was heading back from Denali Backcountry Lodge, where he works for the tourism company Alaska Collection. "Not a bad day at the office," he said.

Peters was born and raised in Anchorage. He had never seen a wolf in the wild until Saturday, on his way out to the lodge, when he spotted one eating the caribou carcass.

Heading back the next day, he saw the wolf and carcass once again – but this time, there was a bear between them.

After a while, Peters put down his camera and just watched. The wolf eventually got a piece of the caribou, he said.

The bear "wasn't too happy" but didn't put too much effort into chasing the wolf away, Peters said.

"I'm pretty sure that bear was just really, really lazy," Peters said.

Pat Owen, a park wildlife biologist, agreed that the bear was sluggish.

" 'Cause he's really full of caribou meat," Owen said with a laugh.

"This is really typical behavior," Owen said. "Very often, a wolf will make a kill and they'll feed on it for a little bit, but it usually doesn't take long before a bear comes in and takes over."

The bear will then eat as much as it can. Then it naps. The bear will often sleep next to the carcass or over it – covering it and napping right on top, Owen said.

Eat, sleep. Repeat until the meat is gone.

This particular caribou was likely killed by wolves, Owen said. Wolves were spotted a day earlier feeding on the carcass, and there are wolves denning nearby, she said. The solitary brown bear won't often kill fully grown moose or caribou.

"It's a lot of work," Owen said. Instead, the bear will go after calves.

Peters said Thursday that the experience was "just one of those things that makes me appreciate how amazing Alaska is."

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