VIDEO: Pack of extremely rare black wolves caught on camera in Minnesota

Although black wolves are more common out west, it's extremely rare to see groups of them traveling in Minnesota, which is what makes a recent video so unusual.

Voyageurs Wolf Project/YouTube

Several black wolves were recorded traveling together in part of the same pack in northern Minnesota, something a local preservation group says is extremely uncommon.

The video, posted earlier this week by the Voyageurs Wolf Project, shows several black wolves crossing a trail in the woods. The project operates near the Voyageurs National Park, just east of International Falls along the Minnesota-Canada border. The pack of black wolves was recorded just outside the project’s normal area of operation.

According to the International Wolf Center, “from 1980 to 2020, biologists in Minnesota found between 1.5 to 2 percent of the wolves to be black.”

The center also notes that black wolves are still part of the grey wolf species, they just happen to have black fur. They’re also generally less aggressive and their rarity is due to a high rate of pup-mortality compared to their normal grey counterparts.

“This wolf pack is almost entirely black wolves, which is quite rare for Minnesota,” the Voyageurs Project notes. “Of course, this is not to say it does not happen, but rather that it is definitely not the norm.”

There are about 2,700 wolves in Minnesota, as of 2019, according to the DNR. If estimates are correct and only about 2% of the state’s wolves are black, this means there are only about 50 of them in Minnesota.

Although Minnesota’s total wolf population number may seem low at a glance, there are only roughly 13,000 wolves in the entirety of the U.S., with the lion’s share residing in Alaska. This means that Minnesota is home to roughly 20% of America’s wolves and a huge portion of those living on the mainland continent.

This chart shows Minnesota’s wolf population over time. (Minnesota DNR)