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How do wolves circle their prey then attack?

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Let me start of by saying, I am not an expert, just someone who has spent a lot of time in the field. It is also not based on scientific research, just observation. Further, wolves are extremely cautious by nature. Having spent a lot of time in the field over more than 30 years in areas that do have wolf populations, I can still count the number of wolf attacks on animals that I have witnessed on the fingers of one hand. Only one of those has been on wildlife (a deer), but I have seen many more instances where dogs (all, after all, are canids) in rural areas have attacked wildlife and, more frequently, farm animals.

Thick cover usually prevents me from seeing the whole hunt. Wolves would usually approach from downwind. Both to scent the animal and probably to prevent their scent from being carried to their prey. Suspicious and cautious by nature, this will usually entail some circling and observation, but at a distance.

Healthy animals will usually become aware they are being hunted before the hunter reaches the animal and they will flee, so no circling in the final attack, though in pack situations, part of the pack may be in wait along the anticipated route the fleeing animal might take.

Where the animal is unable to flee, is either tied grazing, in a fenced area or in the case of the deer floundering in deep snow, they are able to take a much slower and more deliberate approach. In those cases, I have seen them circle quite close to the animal (within a few meters).
I believe they just do this to assess the risk. Is the animal really helpless, does whatever has caused the animal to be unable to flee pose a risk to the hunter. Just a basic cautious assessment, because they are able to do so, whereas with a fleeing animal they cannot take the time. The animal would be out of reach by the time they assessed the risk.

I have never seen a case where they (remember, mostly dogs) circle close in and do not attack, except where I have intervened by scaring it off or shooting it.
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