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2 wolves still alive on Michigan's Isle Royale, researchers say

Jan 21, 2018 09:11AM ● Published by Editor

In this photo from early 2017, researchers documented evidence of the island's two-wolf pack. New research on Jan. 20, 2018 showed the two wolves are still alive on the island. Photo courtesy of Rolf Peterson and the Isle Royale Wolf and Moose Project.

By Tanda Gmiter from Mlive.com on January 20, 2018

ISLE ROYALE, MI - Two wolves are still alive on Michigan's remote Isle Royale, researchers determined today.

The news that the island in Lake Superior remains home to two wolves comes despite speculation by some media last year that the once-strong wolf population had dwindled to a single wolf.

Members of the Isle Royale Wolf and Moose Project, based out of Michigan Tech University in Houghton, did their second 2018 winter flyover on the island today.

"We followed tracks of two wolves for over 30 miles at the east end of the island, where the pair has spent most of their time for many years. The male would be 9 years old and the female 7 years old," the group posted on Facebook on Saturday.

Lone female wolf on Isle Royale wont mate with only male her father

Lone female wolf on Isle Royale won't mate with only male, her father 

The nonprofit research group has been studying the interaction of the island's wolf and moose population for six decades.

The pictures they shared show a long string of wolf tracks, and the tracks mingling with that of an otter.

The two wolves left on the 200-square-mile island in northwest Superior are from a family tree with such tangled branches that they are not likely to produce any viable pups, researchers have said.

Longtime researcher Rolf Peterson had this to say about the pair in 2016:

"While this is a male-female pair, they are also father-daughter and half siblings, having shared the same mother - another way of trying to summarize their inbred status is to point out that the female is the product of the male's mating with his own mother."

Scientists have said a strong wolf pack is needed to keep Isle Royale's growing moose population under control.

Isle Royale is a national park, and federal officials have been weighing the possibility of reintroducing more wolves into the park. A decision may come this spring.

Wolves first arrived on the island in the 1940s, via ice bridges from the mainland.

An ice bridge to the mainland did form last winter, but no new wolves arrived.

In their heyday in 1980, wolves numbered about 50 on Isle Royale. The dramatic decline that followed likely was due to outbreaks of canine parvovirus among the packs, dropping their number to 14.

The wolf population rebounded to about 30 a decade ago, then dropped again as the moose population - a food source for wolves - was on the decline.

The roller coaster continued in recent years, with the nine wolves counted in 2014 dropping to three in 2015, and falling to two in 2016.


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