Down to Three Wolves on Isle Royale
Only three wolves seem to remain in Isle Royale National Park. Researchers from Michigan Technological University observed the wolves during their annual Winter Study, and the lone group, at an unprecedented low, is a sharp decline from nine wolves observed last winter.
The study’s report, released Friday, marks the project’s 57th year of observing wolves and moose on Isle Royale. It is the longest running predator-prey study in the world. This year, along with the three resident wolves, scientists estimated 1,250 moose on the island and observed two visiting wolves, which came and then left across an ice bridge to the mainland. This growing gap between the predator and prey populations is a trend that Michigan Tech researchers have tracked over the past four years.
“It’s not the presence of wolves that matters so much, it’s whether wolves are performing their ecological function,” says John Vucetich, an associate professor of wildlife ecology who leads the study along with Rolf Peterson, a research professor at Michigan Tech.