A rare black wolf, wandering alone, has been caught on camera by wildlife experts in Minnesota, stirring up a flurry of interest.
"People get really jazzed about them," Voyageurs Wolf Project lead, Tom Gable, told The Epoch Times. "They do look quite stunning when you just look at them, there's something about them that does seem like it's almost surreal or mythical. ... I think you'll see that reflected in just how much people gravitate to them."
According to Gable, they're trying to study wolves in their areas because it's very challenging to see them in person in places such as Minnesota where there are a lot of forests.
"We use remote cameras or trail cameras to try to study packs in the area, so that camera was set up to actually get footage of the resident packs," he said.
The lone wolf did not belong to any of the known 19 wolf packs in the area, since none of their members are black. Instead, it was probably a younger wolf on the move, "possibly looking for a mate or looking for a territory to set up shop."
Lone wolves are estimated to make up around 15 percent of any wolf population, and black wolves are relatively rare in Minnesota compared to places of higher incidence, such as Yellowstone National Park, making a lone black wolf a special rarity.
"Some of the estimates have been that less than three percent of the population in northern Minnesota are black wolves. In our area, I would suspect it's even less than that," Gable said. "It's not like they serve a unique purpose, or that they have, somehow, superpowers that other wolves don't. I think they capture our imagination. ... you see a black wolf with yellow eyes and it just looks dark, right?"
Voyageurs like to share their best clips with the public alongside "tidbits of knowledge or information" to educate the public on these incredible species. The goal of the project is to learn as much as possible about wolves in northern Minnesota. To that extent, team members have just swapped out all camera SD cards in the area in order to watch winter footage and better understand pack dynamics.
They also want to learn about the wolves' "summer ecology," which refers to their predation behavior and how they raise pups between April and October. With support from Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, Voyageurs is completing its summer fieldwork by spending every day in the woods tracking collared wolves, visiting their most frequented spots, and tracking their kills.