Two Wolves Remain on Isle Royale
Having survived another year, it is likely that only two wolves remain on Isle Royale. A researcher from Michigan Tech surveyed the island this winter, part of the longest running predator-prey study in the world. The sudden population drop has led the Isle Royale National Park to look into intervention strategies for one of its most iconic species.
The study’s report marks the project’s 58th year of monitoring wolves and moose in Isle Royale. In recent years, wolves had been on the decline and moose on the rise. Those patterns persisted through this past winter’s observations. In particular, the island probably has two wolves left and the moose herd is estimated to be 1,300 and likely increasing.
With these ecosystem dynamics at play, the island's wilderness could be significantly impacted, says Rolf Peterson, a research professor at Michigan Tech and report co-author. More moose means more vegetation is eaten, as documented in population increases like those seen in the early 1990s. Predation is the natural check on moose, keeping them from damaging forest vegetation, explains John Vucetich (SFRES), report co-author. But with the packs greatly diminished that balance no longer holds sway.