The Wolf and the Moose

Instructional Objectives
Background Information
Web Resources

Predator and Prey Relationships

Instructional Objectives: Students will:

1. Role play moose and wolves to re-enact the predator/prey relationship between the two species found in Denali National Park.

2. Demonstrate the relationship between wolves and moose through an outdoor activity.

3. Reflect and record in student science journals on how the balance of nature works between wolves and moose in Denali National Park.

Background Material

Wolves have an indeserved reputation of being heineos super killers. Most often the wolf is unsuccessful in its attempt to find and kill prey. Moose and caribou are the primary prey for the wolves of Denali National Park. The wolf populations vary based on available prey. The balance between moose and wolf populations is the target of this lesson.

(Source: Mech, David, "Where Can The Wolf Survive?", National Geographic Magazine, Washington, DC, Vol. 152,No.4, October , 1977.
Pererson, Dr. Rolf O., Moose and Wolves, EarthCorps Briefing, Earthwatch, Watertown, MA, 1996.)

Activity : The Moose and the Wolf

Time Needed for activity: One 45 minute period to explain the activity and rules, take students outdoors for the activity and time to discuss and reflect what students observed.

Target Grade Level: Middle school (Extensions and adjustments for elementary and high school found below.)

Materials Needed: Start out with 2 groups of moose (2 students) and two packs of wolves (remaining students divided equally). Should one species seem to dominate the survival game, increase the number of students who will role play moose.

  • Clock/watch for the timekeepers (2)
  • 1 playground
  • Color paper tags with kite string (similar to those used in touch football) to be worn by each student
  • Name tags identifying moose or wolf
  • Student science journals
  • 2 student timekeepers to follow moose
  • 5 identified safe zones on the playground 10 meters in diameter


1. Divide the class into four groups. Be sure that both girls and boys play both roles, moose and wolf. Four of the students will be moose and the remaining students will represent 2 packs of wolves. Moose will be followed by timekeepers to adhere to rules of activity. Moose will be in 2 teams with 2 students each. Moose and wolf teams should spend 3-5 minutes planning strategies of survival for the activity.

2. Establish parameters in the playground in which students must remain to represent Denali National Park boundries. Identify by post, football field chalk marks or other method, five safe zones for moose to rest and feed. These safe zones (10 meters in diameter) should be marked as 2 lakes, 2 forests and 1 mountain zone. Be sure to mark the safe zones well. (Circle shape to zone is appropriate.)

3. Hand out and discuss the rules of the activity, found below.

4. Hand out color paper tags with kite string and have students attach to themselves. (Students will try to pull the tags from others which means a kill by predator or by prey.)

5. Conduct activity under a 20 minute time limit and return to class.

6. Reflect and record discussion issues or predator/prey relationship in student science journals. Assess how many of each species survived and discuss reasons why one species survived and the other did not, including survival of the strongest.

Rules of the Activity:

1. Each student will wear a color paper tag with kite string. Moose will be given a 30 second head start to run to safety zones.

2. Every minute for each of the 20 minutes allowed for the activity, a wolf is to be removed from the game by teacher and/or timekeeper (alternate boy/girl selection) as it is lost to starvation.

3. Safe zones for moose are lakes, forests and 1 mountain zone and moose can remain only three minutes in each zone, after which it must run to the next zone, either as a pair or singly. The safe zone represents feeding and rest for mouse. Moose may leave the safe zone before three minutes and one at a time. If they stay beyond three minutes, one moose will die from starvation.

4. Each wolf and moose will try to pull the color paper tag from each other to effect a "kill" of the other species. Once a moose or wolf is taken from the game, they will sit on the sidelines until the 20 minute period has ended.

5. If a moose pulls a tag from a wolf, the moose has "killed" the wolf, and if the wolf removes a tag from a moose, the wolf has "killed" the moose, thus providing food for the pack and insuring the species survival.

6. Moose must behave as prey and run from wolves, except when trapped when they may try to pull color tag from wolves. Moose may rest and feed in safe zones.

7. Wolves must behave as predators and chase moose from zone to zone trying to pull color tags from them.

8. At the end of a twenty minute period, return to class.

Evaluations/ Alternative Assessment:

Discuss results of the student activity and student observations regarding predator/prey relationships. Review student science journals and have students evaluate how one species might be more successful than another.

Extensions for Elementary:

Discuss what predators and prey are and their role in the Denali ecosystem. Present pictures of predators and prey and read stories to students about wolves from the school library.

Extensions for Secondary:

Research other predator and prey relationships in Denali National Park. Have students contact Denali National Park Headquarters to get actual data of wolf and moose numbers within the park and graph the data over a period of time.

Web Resources on Wolves:

NOVA: Wild Wolves

International Wolf Center

Wolf Haven

National Geographic: Wolves

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