Wolves eating blueberries

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Wolves eating blueberries

Post by -Wolfdog- » Sun May 23, 2021 9:55 am

(Hi— sorry if this is in the wrong board, I didn't want this post to get buried underneath the Ideas for New Episodes/Future Updates thread.)

Wolves have been well documented consuming wild blueberries, pretty regularly actually in the summer months. Wolves will even regurgitate these berries to young wolf pups. Some researchers think blueberries may conserve energy while providing a nutritional boost. This behavior was caught on camera for the first time in Northern Minnesota. While it has not yet been observed in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, we shouldn't rule it out simply because this foraging behavior has not been studied long enough to make a conclusive decision about whether or not this behavior is unique to the region. Additionally, wild blueberries grow in Yellowstone (or Bog blueberries, which are closely related to the common blueberry).
Sources:
https://m.facebook.com/VoyageursWolfPro ... 582590599/

https://www.mprnews.org/story/2020/02/1 ... heir-young

http://www.uwyo.edu/barnbackyard/_files ... es1017.pdf

Benefits of incorporating wild blue berries to WolfQuest:
  • Provides an easier meal (might only give a 5% boost in hunger, similar to hares, but this can add up if there is a small patch of wild blueberries)
    • Grows during the summer, so it's perfect for the last Slough Creek episode
    • Player will still have to spend time foraging and exploring, but ultimately it will not be a main part of their diet
It may require some new coding? But I have no idea whether or not it's practical. I know that it's a little bit unconventional to suggest plants over a new prey animal, but these things happen in real life and I think it's important that we realize wolves are capable of expanding their diets and taking advantage of the resources around them, even if it means consuming plant matter.

----
Here's another source which mentions blueberries but also mentions prey that was once thought to be rarely preyed upon by wolves (including fish in the mainland).
https://www.npr.org/2018/12/22/67866877 ... ods-wolves

Update:
Wolves may also consume raspberries and other edible wild fruits. Although yes, wolves eat fruit a fair amount it's usually last resort, and wolves are still very carnivorous. Like I said, adding fruit to WQ might help players realize that wolves don't always eat meat. I understand if this suggestion isn't eligible for whatever reason but I think it was worth a try C-:
Last edited by -Wolfdog- on Thu Jul 29, 2021 5:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Wolves eating blueberries

Post by DinoDogDude209 » Fri Jun 04, 2021 11:41 pm

While I think it would be an interesting addition, and like you mentioned, it could work in the context of the Slough Creek episode, I feel like the fact that this behavior has not been observed in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem pretty much rules out the possibility of this feature being included in the game. Never say never, but I just don't think it's worth including it in the game if there's no evidence that Yellowstone wolves do it.
Although one could theoretically say the same thing about the inclusion of beavers in the game, I feel like that's a different story for a couple of reasons. The main reason is that beavers and the methods wolves use to hunt beavers are a very unique phenomenon in the real world, which in my opinion, warrants their inclusion in the game. Eating berries is not a unique phenomenon, there's plenty of other carnivores (including other canines) which will supplement their diets with fruit. That's why I don't think it's a good idea to include this as a feature in the game.

Although, speaking of other carnivores, I wonder if it would make sense to include NPC behaviors for the bears (and possibly other animals) in the game that would include eating berries. It probably would not add much to the gameplay, but I suppose that it could provide interesting ambience.

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Re: Wolves eating blueberries

Post by Windstrider » Tue Jun 15, 2021 3:45 pm

I like the idea of player wolves being able to find and eat berries and get a small boost. I think NPCs foraging and eating berries could be interesting and add more to the environment as well as perhaps create some food competition, like how other predators in the game will feed on carcasses and sometimes fight the player wolf over them.
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Re: Wolves eating blueberries

Post by SkyRiderMusic » Tue Jul 27, 2021 3:38 pm

The Voyageurs wolves have very different diets than ones in Yellowstone, and I think adding this may cause misinformed people to be like "but why can't wolves be vegetarians? Predators eating things is mean 😡😡😡" which would be... not good for a game about wolf education and yellowstone ecosystems

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Re: Wolves eating blueberries

Post by DinoDogDude209 » Tue Jul 27, 2021 6:06 pm

SkyRiderMusic wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 3:38 pm
The Voyageurs wolves have very different diets than ones in Yellowstone, and I think adding this may cause misinformed people to be like "but why can't wolves be vegetarians? Predators eating things is mean 😡😡😡" which would be... not good for a game about wolf education and yellowstone ecosystems
I agree. The differences between the diets of Voyageurs wolves and Yellowstone's wolves makes edible berries an unlikely addition at best. I also agree with your point about causing misinformed people to get the wrong impression about wolves. In the wild, wolves generally have to kill to eat, the fruit-eating behavior of the Voyageurs wolves does not seem to be present in all wolf populations. So including edible berries in the game could cause some people to believe that all wolves will eat berries, when in all actuality it has only been documented in certain wolf populations.

Honestly, I'd rather see the team continue to add more prey animals to the game, rather than add something like edible berries. In my opinion, new prey animals would make for much more exciting gameplay than simply being able to eat from a berry bush. Yellowstone offers a wide variety of possible new prey species that could make their way into the game, including some animals that are probably more plausible to be consumed by Yellowstone wolves than berries are.

I'm not saying that allowing our wolves to eat berries isn't an interesting idea! However, in the context of where WolfQuest is set, I do not think it's very likely to be included, nor do I think it would add enough to the overall gameplay experience to warrant an inclusion.

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Re: Wolves eating blueberries

Post by -Wolfdog- » Wed Jul 28, 2021 5:40 pm

Yeah, I didn't expect this idea to gain much traction. I probably should've posted it in general wolf discussion.
SkyRiderMusic wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 3:38 pm
The Voyageurs wolves have very different diets than ones in Yellowstone, and I think adding this may cause misinformed people to be like "but why can't wolves be vegetarians? Predators eating things is mean 😡😡😡" which would be... not good for a game about wolf education and yellowstone ecosystems
While I understand your concern, I don't think misinformation is a serious issue. Wolves have the reputation of being killers, or hunters, and are best known for hunting in packs. They have held this reputation for centuries. "but why can't wolves be vegetarians? Predators eating things is mean" is logic you'd expect from a 6 year old honestly. I emphasized in the post how eating blueberries isn't a main part of their diet, not to mention even your average layman knows that wolves (usually) kill prey to survive and if humans can't live off of berries, why are wolves any different? At least I hope people have enough common sense. Think of it like bears, we know them as ferocious predators yet they are known for eating fruit.

That being said, according to the post, this is perhaps one of the first documented cases of wolves actively consuming berries (at least in Northern Minnesota), and it's not conclusive enough to say whether or not it's restricted only to Voyageur wolves. However, I couldn't find any articles about Yellowstone wolf scat containing berries. So, this would probably be the biggest issue regarding my suggestion's eligibility, not misinformation.

If a similar topic hasn't been posted yet, I'll eventually post this in GWD. Buuuuut, I do think grizzly bears should be observed eating berries. It's very common and adds new plant species.
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Re: Wolves eating blueberries

Post by Koa » Wed Jul 28, 2021 11:28 pm

-Wolfdog- wrote:Yeah, I didn't expect this idea to gain much traction. I probably should've posted it in general wolf discussion.
No need to have posted this in General Wolf Discussion as the topic discussion still pertains to the plausibility of adding a specific game feature. General Wolf Discussion is strictly for non-game-related discussion about wolves.

I don't think misinformation would be the main concern re: game implementation. The main concern would be, as I said on the fish topic, whether its worthwhile to add such a feature in the first place in the context of gameplay. I agree it would be neat to show other foraging behaviors in general. But compare your idea about showing aquatic moose foraging behaviors to (wolves or prey) foraging berries. The former is more visual; the latter, not so much because we're probably talking about mere pixels on a bush (that may not be as visible once you go down on the graphics scale) for a low food reward for wolves and (perhaps not as low for) other animals. It's interesting, but not exciting and I don't think the payoff is there from a gameplay standpoint, in my opinion. Then add all of that on top of "We're not sure if wolves forage berries in Yellowstone" and there's even less incentive to add it. Again, there's no evidence of wolves preying on beavers in Yellowstone, but it's a (1 an exciting addition in terms of gameplay with (2 a decent and plausible food reward payoff.
-Wolfdog- wrote:That being said, according to the post, this is perhaps one of the first documented cases of wolves actively consuming berries (at least in Northern Minnesota), and it's not conclusive enough to say whether or not it's restricted only to Voyageur wolves. However, I couldn't find any articles about Yellowstone wolf scat containing berries. So, this would probably be the biggest issue regarding my suggestion's eligibility, not misinformation.
VWP's post notes that it's the first documented footage of wolves actively eating blueberries and mentions there are other clips of wolves eating other fruits. Berry consumption is not linked to just wolves in VNP and has been documented elsewhere via scat analysis and personal observation for some time, per the abstract of "Estimating Biomass of Berries Consumed by Gray Wolves":
Wolves also consume fruits such as wild blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) and raspberries (Rubus spp.) when these fruits are abundant. In areas where berry consumption occurs, berries typically constitute a minor (<10% frequency) portion of the summer diet (Messier and Cr^ete 1985) [study performed in Quebec]. However, in some areas, berries can be a significant summer food item for wolves. Berries (primarily blueberries) constituted 10–30% (frequency) of the diet of wolves from 1 June to 15 September in southern
Quebec, Canada (Tremblay et al. 2001). Similarly, vegetation (primarily berries) occurred in 52% of scats collected at home sites in July and 20% of scats collected on trails in August and September in north-central Minnesota, USA (Fuller 1989). In Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota, berries constituted 30–50% (volume) of wolf diets in July and August 2015 (T. D. Gable, personal observation). Though
berries can be an important summer food for wolves in boreal systems, the percent biomass of wolf diets composed of berries is largely unknown.
https://www.jstor.org/stable/90003996

A broader citation on wolf foraging habits as it pertains to berries/fruits, for your reference:
Perhaps because of the greater availability of fruit, wolves in southern portions of Eurasia may feed on plant material more extensively than those in North America. Radio-collared wolves in the lowlands of central Italy have been monitored as they moved through mature vineyards (P. Ciucci, unpublished data). Fruit may pro vide vitamins for wolves in summer, as even in North America it is not uncommon to find seeds from rasp berries and blueberries in wolf scats (Van Ballenber ghe et al. 1975; Peterson 1977; Fuller 1989b). Cherries, berries (Hell 1993; Ciucci 1994), apples, pears, figs, plums, grapes (Castroviejo et al. 1975; Guitian et al. 1979; Bibi kov et al. 1985; Gao 1990; Cuesta et al. 1991; Papageorgiou et al. 1994), melon, and watermelon (Gao 1990) have been reported in wolf scats. Grass (Graminae) merits brief mention, as it appears in wolf scats in North America as well as in Eurasia with 14–43% frequency (Ragni et al. 1985; Salvador and Abad 1987; Patalano and Lovari 1993; Ciucci 1994; Papageor giou et al. 1994). Possibly grass acts as a scour or inducement to vomit, ridding the intestine of parasites or the stomach of long guard hairs that delay passage of food through the gut, or as a source of vitamins (Mech 1970; Kelly 1991).
"The Wolf as a Carnivore" via Wolves: Behavior Ecology and Conservation, page 109

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Re: Wolves eating blueberries

Post by -Wolfdog- » Thu Jul 29, 2021 4:59 pm

I was talking about Yellowstone wolf scat, specifically. I also meant formatting this post in a way where it is no longer a suggestion but information, so it would still apply to general wolf discussion
Is there a way to close this post? I don't feel like it is necessary to continue this, all of your points are very valid.
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Re: Wolves eating blueberries

Post by Koa » Thu Jul 29, 2021 6:04 pm

-Wolfdog- wrote:
Thu Jul 29, 2021 4:59 pm
I was talking about Yellowstone wolf scat, specifically. I also meant formatting this post in a way where it is no longer a suggestion but information, so it would still apply to general wolf discussion
Is there a way to close this post? I don't feel like it is necessary to continue this, all of your points are very valid.
If you’d like, you can start a topic in General Wolf Discussion regarding fruit consumption. Can probably gathered what you/I have shared here and put it in the first post. It would be nice to use the thread to share fruit-specific updates from the Voyageurs project. :)

I can lock the topic for you.

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