Wolves are opportunistic hunters. They go for the easier kill. They’ll take their time and follow a herd of deer or elk until they can pick out whichever animal is the weakest link in the group. They may follow the group for miles before striking.
Once they do strike, they’ll use everything to their advantage. Wolves are able to move quickly and they have incredible endurance. They can lead prey into terrain that’s difficult for it to navigate, but wolves can handle easily.
Wolves let their prey expend their own energy and tire themselves out. This makes it both easier to take down their prey and reduces the risk of injury to the wolves – as they can get seriously hurt by an antler or by getting kicked.
The way wolves hunt is actually beneficial to their prey.
Since they go after the weak or sick animals, they improve the overall health of their prey’s population. For example, if they take down the weaker deer, the rest of the deer in the herd who survive are able to pass on their genetics. By taking down sicker animals, they help limit the spread of disease – which makes the herds stronger overall in the long run.
It may seem odd that wolves actually help their prey populations get stronger, but that is the role of wolves in the ecosystems they occupy. They bring balance to the areas they live in, which is what the environment needs in order to function properly.