Wolf vs. Raven? Thieving birds may drive canines to form big packs

12:21pm, March 24, 2004

Wolf packs often turn out to be bigger than predicted by the theories of animal behaviorists, and a new analysis points to a previously underappreciated factor: the scrounging genius of ravens.

Observations of wolves for 27 winters on an island in Lake Superior permitted a detailed analysis of factors affecting the amount of food a wolf gets in winter, says Thomas Waite of Ohio State University in Columbus. The analysis repeatedly suggested that the economics of feeding would work out best if wolves hunted in pairs, but in real life the wolves typically form packs of six or more.

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