Skinny Wolf Tries Fat Bear Diet!

What difference does a fat rich salmon diet make to Alaska’s grizzly bears? Take a look at the interior Alaska grizzly bear

Coastal Brown Bear catching a leaping sockeye salmon

compared to the Alaska coastal grizzly bear. 600 pounds is a large interior grizzly in Denali National Park. A large coastal grizzly bear would be 1000 to 1200 pounds. The difference in size is attributed to coastal bears eating a high caloric salmon diet since the ice sheet retreated from coastal Alaska thousands of years ago.

Wolf carrying salmon, Brooks River

So what took wolves so long to add salmon to their diet? Wolves are carnivores; bears are omnivores like humans. Maybe the carnivore wolves were slow to develop a taste for fish. The skinny wolf at Brooks Camp seems to have taken a liking to salmon. Could it be he was enticed by watching bears feast on salmon?

If this wolf family is successful with their salmon diet possibly we will have giant coastal gray wolves 10,000 years from now!

Given the atmospheric temperature trends in recent decades it is unlikely the wolf will get the 10,000 year opportunity grizzly bears have gotten. This year Alaska’s early summer had record breaking heat and drought. The Brooks River sockeye salmon run was delayed by warm water temperatures. The fish retreated to cooler water until the heat

Wolf salmon fishing,  Brooks River

wave broke, and water temperatures dropped to a point where the salmon could proceed up river. 

If this rising temperature trend continues in the future there will be a point where water temperatures will be too high for salmon in this part of the state. Fish are very sensitive to water temperature, and many other species are dependent upon fish. Animals that depend upon salmon runs such as coastal brown bears will have to adapt or relocate, and the skinny wolf will remain skinny!

©Terry Chick 1/1/2020