There’s a reason Yellowstone National Park is the Shangri-La of wildlife viewing and photography—and it’s because you can encounter scenes like this there.
On Thursday, October 5, wildlife tour guide Michael Sypniewski shared a video on Instagram of a stunning wildlife interaction that took place within the park. The footage begins showing a massive herd of elk running roughly in the direction of Sypniewski’s camera. The reason they’re running so fast soon becomes apparent: A large pack of wolves is in hot pursuit of the herd. What happens next could be straight out of a National Geographic documentary.
“[This was] one of the most thrilling mornings I’ve ever had in Yellowstone,” wrote Sypniewski in the video’s caption. “Sitting alone atop a rocky ridge, I watched a scene unfold that I am not sure I will ever see again: A pack of 20 or more wolves in pursuit of a herd of 300-plus elk.”
Eventually, one of the wolves manages to key in on an elk that lagged behind the rest of the herd. The wolf bites at the haunches of the elk and gets it to run in a circle instead of rejoining the rest of the herd. Soon, the rest of the wolf pack converges on the lone elk—and the hunt quickly comes to an end.
“This chase, unlike many for wolves, ended in success as they were able to bring down a young cow elk,” wrote Sypniewski. It’s not the first time he’s documented a wolf hunt in America’s first national park. In June, he recorded a scene showing two bison successfully saving a calf from wolves.
According to the National Park Service, Yellowstone is home to over 100 wolves and anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 elk. The park’s wolves prey primarily on hoofed animals, including elk. Their winter diet is composed of 90 percent elk, while, in the summer, it’s more varied.