Inbred Wolves Struggle, Moose Proliferate at Isle Royale National Park
by Jennifer Donovan, director of news and media relations
During their annual Winter Study at Isle Royale National Park, scientists from Michigan Tech counted nine wolves organized into one breeding pack and a second small group that is a remnant of a formerly breeding pack.
In the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Study’s annual report released today, the researchers say that over the past three years, they have tallied the lowest numbers of wolves ever: nine in 2011–12, eight in 2012–13 and nine in 2013–14. During the same period, predation rates—the proportion of the moose population killed by wolves—also dropped to the lowest ever recorded, while the number of moose doubled, to approximately 1,050.
Wolves are the only predators of moose on the remote island national park in northwestern Lake Superior. The moose population has been increasing because wolf predation has been so low.
“The poor condition of wolf predation on Isle Royale appears to be caused by inbreeding,” said John Vucetich, director of Michigan Tech’s study of the wolves and moose of Isle Royale. In its 56th year, the research project is the longest continuous predator-prey study in the world.
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For more information about the moose and wolves see the wolf-moose report.