And this might be the most informative of the 3 videos that have been recorded because the hunter recording the video was able to see what the beaver was doing long before the wolves showed up.
This video was captured by Jon Galler near Hill City, Minnesota when he was deer hunting this past fall. Had a great chat with Jon about his observation and he provided some great information about the scene prior to kill.
Before the wolf and its pack mates started crossing the beaver dam, Jon had watched this beaver that the wolf killed for about 25 minutes. As the wolves were crossing the dam, the beaver was on a rock in a shallow part of the pond grooming itself and appeared unaware of the wolves.
Similarly, the lead wolf did not seem to notice the beaver initially and went to scent-mark some grass on the beaver dam. After scent-marking, the wolf scraped the ground and this seemed to cause the beaver to retreat into the water off of the rock.
The wolf heard the beaver slip into the water and immediately changed its behavior. You can see this clearly in the video. The wolf then bounded into the pond and caught the beaver, who was entirely below the water.
The beaver can be heard crying/vocalizing as the wolf pulled it out of the water and Jon said he could hear bones cracking as well, likely from the bite force of the wolf. The wolf brought the beaver onshore but then appeared to see or scent Jon and dropped the beaver and ran.
However, two trailing pups checked out the beaver within a short period and carried it into the woods. It is hard to tell but it looked like the beaver still had a bit of life in it when the pups grabbed it.
This observation is amazingly cool for many reasons but probably the most amazing is that it shows wolves will not only go into the water to catch beavers but that can also catch beavers swimming underwater—something that had never been documented before!
It had been largely assumed that beavers were not vulnerable to predation in bodies of water like ponds because they are adept swimmers and could easily evade predators. Obviously, that is not always the case. And certainly, no one has speculated that wolves would catch a beaver swimming underwater.
Now, the reason the wolf was likely successful in this hunt is that the beaver it killed was a kit beaver (i.e., a young of the year beaver that was like 6-7 months old). In other words, this was a very small beaver that didn’t put up much of a fight when caught.
We suspect the interaction would have been dramatically different if the wolf had attacked a 50-60 lb adult beaver. Maybe someday someone will get footage of something like that.