By Ken Marsh

“When sorrows come, they come not single spies. But in battalions!”

 – William Shakespeare“Hamlet”

The wolves didn’t hesitate. Four of them, three grays and a smokey-black converged on the moose. Two of the grays lunged for the throat, another snapped at an ear – and for a moment hung from it, tugging – while the black wolf shot in to seize a front leg below the knee. Frantic, the moose shook them off, even as two more wolves appeared on the bank from behind. 

Ears flattened, hackles raised, the moose reared, flailing with its front hooves. The visceral thud of bone striking flesh was followed by a yelp as the black wolf somersaulted across the frozen creek. From the bank a large, nearly snow-white wolf leaped onto the moose’s back, straddling it and grabbing the shoulder hump with jaws powerful enough to crush heavy femurs. The moose spun wild-eyed and the second wolf from the bank, a tawny gray, sailed in and clamped onto its prey’s windpipe above the dewlap. 

Now the first three grays rushed the moose, tearing at its flanks, sinking their canines into its haunches. By the time the black wolf was up, wheezing with freshly broken ribs, the attack was over. The sun was sinking as the pack began stripping hide and snarling over hierarchical placement at the kill. 

Already ravens had arrived. The hills to the east and the muskegs, forests, and frozen rivers and lakes in between beamed in rich pink alpenglow, even as the first faint stars appeared.  

###

6 thoughts on “Wolfpack

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Pete. Yes, while wolves are an integral, and in many ways beautiful, part of Alaska’s wilderness there’s no denying their efficiency as killers. I’m glad you enjoyed the snapshot I provided here.

      Like

  1. I didn’t realize that moose can be vulnerable especially if they encounter the pack of wolves. I know that wolves can attack bisons, they often check the herds of bisons for old, weak and vulnerable and then single out their prey trying to get it to run in order to attack.
    My heart aches when I look at this moose, but it’s a survival and it’s brutal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, moose are a staple food item for wolves in many parts of Alaska. Often, moose fall to packs considerably larger than the one I’ve described here. But occasionally, even lone wolves are able to take down moose. When I worked for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, we were called to a moose kill site in Anchorage. The wolf was an old female that was no longer with her pack (old or sick wolves are frequently killed by their own packs). We discovered the old wolf had killed a young moose by attacking and biting its hind legs, then following the moose probably for days as infection set in. As the moose weakened from infection and repeated attacks, the lone wolf was finally able to kill it. Not pretty stuff, but Nature’s way.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ken nails it with his descriptive portrayal of how quickly life and death is meted out, within this drama of surrounding wolves overwhelming a moose for food. Nature cares not whether any one creature or even a whole system of them, live or die on its landscapes. We could return to the scene of that desperate drama every autumn until those remaining bones lie covered in moss, and we may never again see a moose right there or encounter a pack of hunting wolves. Or we may. The drama for all is passed. Ken’s last line in that read is truly haunting to anyone that appreciates the color of the sky…
    Who knows if a similar drama will take place there again? Did the pack black wolf eventually succumb to injuries sustained by that enraged defensive moose? Did the rest of the pack kill it for food because it was crippled and no longer a viable pack member when months later there were no more moose to be found?
    Only Ken knows…I intend to stay tuned for further adventures.
    Ken’s pics and prose are gratefully appreciated here at my house on an island in southern southeast Alaska. With the advent of repeated cyclonic wind storms one, after, the next. Thank you, Ken!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much for the kind words, Glen! I’m glad you enjoyed this little sketch. Hopefully your local wolves left a few deer and you found time to venture out between storms for a hunt or two. For now stay dry, be safe, and thanks again for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s