Skip to comments.Scientists say Isle Royale wolves may need bailout as extinction threat rises
Posted on 03/16/2012 4:00:40 PM PDT by SJackson
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. Isle Royale National Parks gray wolves, one of the worlds most closely monitored predator populations, are at their lowest ebb in more than a half-century and could die out within a few years, scientists said Friday.
Only nine wolves still wander the wilderness island chain in western Lake Superior and just one is known to be a female, raising doubts theyll bounce back from a recent free-fall unless people lend a hand, Michigan Tech University wildlife biologists Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich said in a report obtained by The Associated Press. There were 24 wolves roughly their long-term average number as recently as 2009.
The wolves are at grave risk of extinction, Vucetich said in an interview.
Their crash apparently results from a run of bad luck rather than a single catastrophe. A shortage of females has cut the birth rate, while breakdown of several packs boosted inbreeding and weakened the gene pool. Other troubles include disease and starvation from a drop-off of moose, the wolves primary food source.
Their population is the smallest since biologists began observing their interactions with moose in 1958, beginning what became the worlds longest-running study of predators and prey in a single ecosystem, Vucetich said. Previously, the closest they came to extinction was during a parvovirus outbreak in the 1980s when their numbers plummeted from 50 to 12.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
The ecosystem would function just fine without wolves.
I wonder how many times they’ve died out on the island only to return later. After all, its an island but it’s an island that often finds itself surrounded by ice.
A bailout? The wolves must have lobbyists.
It's a wonderful place. I remember when the population dropped due to parvo. The wolves came back.
The place is a wonderful labratory, and I'd be fine with introducing a few wolves to keep things going, though the critters might surprise us and survive on their own. It was a coyote/deer habitat during my lifetime, so I'm not sure there's much damage if they don't survive, other than to the scientific and tourism communities. But I'd help them out.
It's a UN World Heritage site I believe, and when the UN was formed in many of our lifetimes, no wolves on Isle Royale. Go figure.
Nature has the unique ability of taking care of its own and right now the wolf is on the "B" list......
The ice passage isn’t there that often, only a couple times the last half century. Which gives them lots of opportunities as these things go, if you’re a scientist studying them, or attempting tourism to the park (which is wonderful), it’s a big problem. Not that that enters anyones mind other than mine.
'He gutted it and dragged it into town to have it weighed and measured; it was 182 pounds even after gutting, and measured seven feet, 11 inches tall when measured hanging vertically. The creature stood 39 inches at the shoulder! It was considered such a magnificent specimen that the carcass was sent to the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh where it was mounted and displayed. '
It's kind of an artificial enviornment, but not one where species developed, one where the showed up. And have probably been "showing up" for millenia, but no one noticed. It's been explained to me that it was a deer-coyote place. The moose showed up a century or so ago, out browsed the deer who can't reach as high as moose. Weakening the deer herd, as well as the coyotes. An invitation for the wolves, who dispatched the deer and the coyotes, and are now stuck living off the really big guys, in front of the tourists and scientists.
It's a wild place, but also artificial. I'd import some wolves and keep the 60 year old experiment going, referring to this as an "extinction", or some sort of a natural wolf enviornment, is absurd.
Didn’t address your inbreeding/females comment, but it’s really a tiny population. That’s kind of a given. I don’t know why that would surprise anyone, especially scientists.
Last week here on FR was a thread on killing wolves out west because of overpopulation.
Don’t any of these wolf people talk to each other?
You’re wrong about that.
The wolves could die out on the island.
The Moose population explodes over the next 50 years.
In 75 years a pack of mainland wolves track Moose that had ventured out onto the ice between the mainland and the island to the island.
In 100 years Americans are again saying that the large wolf population on the island are the reason Moose are disappearing from the island.....
We'll have to agree to disagree over this.
"Artificial" is the key. Kinda like an aquarium.......
Scroll down for the list of extirpated species.
Does Isle Royale qualify for a MIping?