All About Denali Park | From The Denali Summer Times
The Predators Wolves, owls, bears, foxes, lynx, eagles, coyotes. They’re all predators. The other animals in the park are on alert for them.
Predators have evolved abilities and developed a host of strategies directed at catching their prey. Foxes, wolves and coyotes all have large parts of their brains dedicated to sorting out smells. They’re quick – and patient.
Wolves hunt together as a pack. Together, as a group, they are able to take down big animals, like moose and caribou. Foxes hunt alone, and prey on small animals like mice and birds. Coyotes also eat small herbivores, and typically don’t prey on larger mammals.
The Prey Small animals never rest easy. Because they’re hunted, they are always on the alert for predators. Whether you're watching a ground squirrel sitting on a rock – or a flock of ducks on a lake – you'll notice how skittish they are. The slightest movement will send ground squirrels scurrying down a hole, and birds racing into the air.
Some small animals take the opposite approach and freeze in place when they think danger is nearby, like the snowshoe hare in this picture.
Some prey animals hide in holes. Others hide through coloration. Both willow ptarmigan and snowshoe hares turn white in the winter. Ermines also change color in winter. In the summer, when they’re brown, they’re called "weasels." Photo of Snowshoe Hare, Mitch Malamud
Denali is wild. While here, you may witness the dynamic relationship between predator and prey. Visitors are mesmerized when they see a wolf pack surrounding a caribou. Or a grizzly bear chasing a moose and her calf. However, as dramatic as those events are, drama also occurs on a small scale all the time. Tiny voles are constantly chased by foxes and coyotes. Bears will spend an entire afternoon, digging up a whole hillside, trying to catch an arctic ground squirrel. When predators are successful in catching prey, they not only feed themselves and their young, but they also provide food for smaller animals, who gnaw every scrap and bone left behind.