Gray wolves mainly eat large herbivores such as deer, elk, moose, bison, caribou, musk oxen, bighorn sheep, reindeer and elk. When it is necessary, they supplement their diet with smaller animals such as rabbits, hares, beavers, squirrels, mice, birds, fish, snakes and lizards. They also eat vegetables and fruits such as apples, pears, blueberries and nightshade. In areas heavily populated by humans they feed on livestock and garbage.
Wolves often hunt in packs to bring down large animals. They locate potential prey by scenting it from downwind. Approaching the prey stealthily, they try to get as close as possible without being detected. If large prey stands its ground, wolves usually back down. However, if the prey runs, the wolves give chase. They typically take down prey either by biting its side or its throat, causing it to weaken as it bleeds out. When the prey goes down, the pack attacks it and begins to eat voraciously. A full-grown wolf can eat up to 20 pounds of meat at a single feeding and sometimes eats several times a day.
Although historically there are many recorded instances of wolves attacking humans, wolf attacks for predation in modern times are rare. When humans are the victims of predatory attacks, they are almost always children or women. Attacks occur mainly in the northern forests of Europe and Asia and rarely in North America.