Do Wolves Attack and Eat Horses?

When wolves attack in packs, they will be able to take down a single horse and kill it. However, when faced against a herd of horses, even a wolf pack would not be able to kill any member of the horse herd.

do wolves attack and eat horses

Horses are famous for their strength and the horsepower we associate with them.

This strength will help horses when they are attacked by wild animals like wolves.

Horses are also very adept at forming defenses when in a herd, which makes them even harder to kill.

Do Wolves Attack and Eat Horses?

Wolves will attack horses when they see the opportunity to do so. They prefer to attack single horses and group up in a wolf pack, giving the horse a much harder chance of fighting back.

Horses are much larger and stronger than wolves, and for a single wolf, they present too big of a challenge. But when wolves are grouped up in a wolf pack and they spot the opportunity to single out a weak link of the horse herd, then the attack can be quite effective.

Wolves have been known for killing and eating horses for food.

A good example comes from the French Alps where a herd of horses is constantly attacked by a pack of wolves. The wolf population in the Alp region of France is getting too high and there have been calls for thinning down the population.

In one attack, a pack of wolves was able to kill one horse and harm one badly, which just goes to show how brutal and powerful wolf attacks can be, considering that horses are several times larger than wolves in size.

Wolves attack horses at night and will look to single out weak or older horses.

The fact that horses are kept inside a pen is to their advantage, since horses cannot escape wolves because they’re trapped. A horse can run with a top speed of up to 88 km/h (55m mp/h), while wolves can only run at a speed of up to 65 km/h (40 mp/h).

This means that successful wolf attacks on horses will only happen when horses cannot escape, which is exactly what happens to farm-owned horses. Wolves will single out horses and try to isolate them so they can’t be protected by other horses.

If that succeeds, then the likelihood of the success of the attack is high.

As a result of these constant attacks, French farmers (and other farmers in areas with high wolf populations) have been calling on their authorities to help them out.

Read Also: Do Wolves Eat Bones?

Do Wolves Eat Horses?

Horse meat is sometimes a part of a wolf’s diet, but it is not the main source of food for wolves.

Wolves are very opportunistic in nature.

They will look for the right opportunities to find food and will certainly not waste energy without having a chance to get food. They’re very good at testing the waters and making sure that the prey they’re going after is worth the energy they are going to waste.

With horses, it is not always the best option for wolves.

First of all, wolves will have a hard time hunting down horses if they’re grouped up nicely together. Horses are also stronger than wolves and wolves would not be comfortable enough to go after them if the horses are grouped up. However, they will look to single out weak and old horses if they find a chance to do so.

In addition, wolves have many different options when it comes to finding food.

They prefer to hunt down ungulates, because they’re slightly easier to catch and there’s an abundance of that type of food in a wolf’s habitat. To catch larger ungulates, they’ll form wolf packs and like with horses, try to single out the weakest members of the herd.

But wolf attacks on livestocks are not rare by any means.

In the state of Colorado, wolves killed more than 2500 head of livestock in 2014!

This means that wolves present a real threat for farmers and for livestock alike. The calls to regulate wolf populations in these areas are getting louder.

Looking at those statistics, wolves have a much higher preference to kill and eat other animals like sheep and cows. Horses only represent a very low percentage of animals killed by wolves.

Read Also: Do Wolves Eat Sheep?

Can a Wolf Kill a Horse (and Vice Versa)?

A single wolf cannot kill a horse, but a wolf pack will have more strength than one horse and will be able to kill it if the horse is enclosed.

On the other hand, a horse might use its defensive mechanisms (kicking its legs back into the attacking wolf) that might hurt the hunting wolves, which is yet another reason why wolf attacks on horses are quite rare.

A horse is much larger than a wolf and also faster and more powerful, which makes it near impossible for a single wolf to kill it. But the power of the wolf pack is there and when hunting in packs, wolves are able to find the weak targets and isolate them as much as possible.

When in herds, horses have a special defensive mechanism: they will form a circle around the youngest members of the herd while facing outwards to protect the young horses. When horses do that, any wolf attack might be futile and has a low chance of succeeding.

Read Also: Do People Eat Wolves?

Final Thoughts

Wolves do attack and kill horses, but rarely. It is partly because horses are too big and strong for a single wolf, and partly because wolves prefer other types of food that is easier to find and catch.

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