Two Wolves Released on Isle Royale!
With only two wolves remaining on Isle Royale, wolves are at risk of vanishing from the island altogether along with the island’s ongoing wolf-moose study that began almost 60 years ago.
The last wolves remaining are a male-female pair are who have low chances of producing healthy offspring due to years of inbreeding among the island’s population.
But that all changed on September 26 when two new gray wolves were released to the island.
The wolves, a 4-year-old female and a 5-year-old male, were taken to separate release sites, and well away from the island’s two longtime resident wolves. They were both vaccinated and fitted with GPS tracking collars before their release.
Scientists hope the release of additional wolves will provide much-needed genetic diversity for the island’s wolves and will help restore the balance of the ecosystem.
Performing a “genetic rescue” is the only option for keeping the species going, it will also allow the unique wolf-moose study to continue.
Michigan Technological University wolf researcher John Vucetich supports the rescue effort; he believes the study is unique. “What’s very rare, ecologically, is to have a top predator and a moose in a forest where none of them are exploited by people, where there’s no hunting, no persecution, logging,” he said. “To be able to study that ecology, that’s the really distinctive part.”
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UPDATE (September 28) – The female wolf captured with intent to be released at Isle Royale National Park died before it could be set free. Officials didn’t identify the cause of death, but said they were altering field procedures for handling wolves captured for the park’s wolf recovery program. More.