Epic wolf hunt caught on camera

This clip shows how fortune finally favours the ravenous pack.

The extraordinary endurance hunting of grey wolves has been recorded by BBC film-makers in Alberta, Canada.

Cameramen battled howling winds and sub-zero temperatures to film the dramatic chase as wolves closed in on their American bison prey.

Fortune finally favoured the wolves when a panicked bull knocked over a calf, leaving it defenceless against the hungry predators.

Start Quote

This was the coldest overall shoot on all of Frozen Planet”

End Quote Chadden Hunter, director

The sequence features in the landmark BBC One series Frozen Planet.

Director Chadden Hunter and his team scoured Wood Buffalo National Park, an area the size of Denmark, to find the predators and prey in action.

Taking on a herd of bison, with males weighing in at up to a tonne, is a high-risk strategy for the wolves.

But with temperatures reaching -50 degrees and with winds of up to 100mph, conditions drive extreme behaviour.

"This was the coldest overall shoot on all of Frozen Planet," Hunter told BBC Nature.

"The electronics on the cameras would freeze up, the lenses would grow sheets of hoar-frost and batteries would die in seconds.

"We tried heating the cameras but the plastic cables to the battery packs snapped like bread sticks and the plastic covers broke apart like poppadoms.

"We resorted to 'ancient' technology and strapped tin cases containing sticks of burning coal into the insulated blanket covering the camera."


  • American bison are also known as American buffalo
  • They are the continent's largest living land mammal
  • Despite their size, they can run at speeds of over 30mph

Both bison and wolves are wary of humans so a combination of techniques was used to capture the hunt in full.

Aerial cameraman Michael Kelem, more accustomed to filming Hollywood car chases, had to acclimatise to the weather quickly.

Operating the camera on board the helicopter required fine motor control: impossible in down gloves but excruciating without them.

"The helicopter obviously became our secret weapon for filming the hunt but it was some serious old-fashioned bushcraft that got us the ground shots to complete the sequence," said Mr Hunter.

Native Canadian Jeff Turner was stationed on the ground where he was able to film the climax of a second hunt.

Turner describes watching a lone wolf battle with a bison for over an hour as "powerful".

"The struggles that we'd had with the cold... felt insignificant compared with these animals that were struggling for their very lives," he said.

Frozen Planet starts on 26 October at 21:00 BST on BBC One

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More from nature

  • Cardinal fish and ostracodFish filmed spitting 'fireworks'

    Film crew captures ostracods' spectacular defensive lightshow that makes predatory fish spit them out.

  • Arapaima'Locally extinct'

    A giant fish which used to dominate the Amazon river is now absent in many areas

  • DragonflyRapid reactions

    Dragonfly's super quick reactions recorded in slow motion by BBC film-makers

  • Wingless adult male of the midge Belgica antarcticaExtreme survivor

    Antarctic midge's small genome may be an adaptation to its extreme environment

  • Myotis midastactus specimen (previously identified as Myotis simus)Golden discovery

    A bat from Bolivia is described as a new species by scientists

  • Dinosaurs 'shrank' to become birds

    Huge meat-eating, land-living dinosaurs evolved into birds by constantly shrinking for over 50 million years, new research shows.

  • Would we starve without bees?

    Honey bees are under threat, and as pollination significantly contributes to the food we eat, what would we do without them?

  • Eggshells may act like 'sunblock'

    Birds' eggs show adaptations in pigment concentration and thickness to allow the right amount of sun for embryos, scientists say.

  • Female shrimps are more aggressive

    Female snapping shrimps are more aggressive than males when defending their territories despite their smaller claw size, a study shows.

BBC iWonder

  • Honey bee close-upInsect intelligence

    Are honey bees as smart as your sat nav?

  • Tyrannosaurus rex skull (c) Mark Williamson / Science Photo LibraryDinosaur dynasty

    One group of dinosaurs survived and their descendants can be seen all around us today

  • Brown rat cluse upRise of the rodent

    Reports of giant, 'super rats' are filling the headlines. But why are we being overrun by rats?

  • Cuckoo portraitHoliday hotspot

    What makes the UK such an attractive destination for visiting wildlife?

There have been 75 solar eclipses and 167 major volcanic eruptions in my lifetime

Nicole Malliotakis on Twitter comments on the events that have happened since she was born by using our personalised Your Life on Earth interactive infographic.

Get Inspired


More Nature Activities >

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.