Three Wolves Added to Isle Royale Population…

The Isle Royale fall wolf translocation project concluded on September 13 after successfully moving three wolves from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to the park. The new wolves, two males and one female, bolstered the total island wolf population to 17, which now includes nine males and eight females, according to Isle Royale National Park Service Press Release.

Third Wolf runs down the trail just after release while NPS staff observe. Photo credit: NPS Phyllis Green.

According to the NPS a fourth wolf was moved to the park on September 13, but its collar sent out a mortality signal over the weekend. Biologists from the National Park Service (NPS) and State University of New York – College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) located the wolf and confirmed the mortality late on Tuesday afternoon. The carcass of the wolf will be sent to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, for necropsy. “Capture, anesthesia, and translocation are stressful events for wolves and the impact of that stress on each individual wolf is unknown,” Isle Royale Park Superintendent Phyllis Green noted. “There is a field examination, however underlying health conditions of wolves prior to their capture are difficult to determine. The analysis of the samples collected during the examination and the necropsy may reveal more information about the cause of death, which will inform future transfers.”

The NPS worked closely with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), US Department of Agriculture APHIS – Wildlife Services (APHIS – Wildlife Services), and SUNY-ESF on the project. From September 5 – 13, seven wolves were captured; three of those not meeting translocation criteria were immediately released. The four adults were examined, documented, tagged and fitted with tracking collars before being flown to the park on a US Fish and Wildlife Service airplane.

“Adding genetics from Michigan wolves was a key piece of the puzzle to provide the best opportunity for genetic diversity that supports the sustainability of the introduced population. The Michigan DNR, APHIS – Wildlife Services, and SUNY-ESF did an outstanding job, given the weather,” Green said. “Our focus now will be on broad population goals and the opportunity these Michigan wolves represent. We will continue to learn what we can and track how the wolves integrate into the island landscape.”

The three to five year effort to establish 20 -30 wolves on Isle Royale is being completed in order to restore predation as a key part of the island ecosystem. Researchers involved in the planning effort recommended this number of wolves from the Great Lakes region. Additionally, they recommended an equal number of males and females in order to establish genetic variability in the new population. The NPS and its partners will monitor the wolf population to determine evidence of social organization, reproduction and predation. Click here to learn more about Isle Royale NPS wolf Project.

Last October (2018) I met up with John Vucetich at the International Wolf Symposium and interviewed him.

The following video was Filmed at the International Wolf Symposium on October 13, 2018 by Rachel Tilseth. The wolf introduction plan comes at a critical time. The 2018 winter study, led by researchers from Michigan Technological University, confirmed that just two wolves remain on the island and there is no hope that this pair will successfully breed. The nearly 1,500 moose at Isle Royale may double in population over the next several years, throwing the health of the park out of balance and devastating the island’s vegetation. Now is the time to restore this top predator and bring balance back to Isle Royale National Park, NPS. A Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films, LLC.

Click here to learn more about Isle Royale NPS wolf Project.

In the News – U.S. National Park Service will be introducing 20 to 30 wolves to Isle Royale by next year…

Isle Royale is a remote wilderness island, isolated by the frigid waters of Lake Superior, and home to populations of wolves and moose. As predator and prey, their lives and deaths are linked in a drama that is timeless and historic. Their lives are historic because we have been documenting their lives for more than five decades. This research project is the longest continuous study of any predator-prey system in the world.

As wildlife ecologists prepare for next month’s 59th annual winter study of wolves and moose on Isle Royale in Michigan, the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) today announced a surprising change in its usual hands-off management of the island wilderness on Lake Superior: proposed plans to introduce 20 to 30 new wolves over the next 3 years. (source)

“This is what I had hoped for,” says wildlife ecologist Rolf Peterson of Michigan Technological University in Houghton. Scientists, including Peterson, who has studied the wolf-moose interaction since 1971, earlier advocated for a genetic rescue of the island wolf population as wolf numbers in recent years dwindled to all-time lows. Only two highly inbred wolves remained on the island this past year, which coincided with the park’s decision to study the possibility of bringing new wolves to the park. There was no sign that the pair reproduced this year, although they were spotted on camera in July. Science Magazine

Photograph by Rolf Peterson

Photograph by Rolf Peterson

Wolves have been successfully moved and reintroduced to other areas, most notably in Yellowstone National Park and in Sweden. But the Isle Royale wolf introduction would follow nearly 6 decades of study of the predator-prey interaction on an island, and could illuminate how that interaction unfolds in a changing climate. Isle Royale Park Superintendent Phyllis Green emphasizes that the planning is not about a single species. “The focus really needs to be on ecosystems,” she says.

Although the park’s preferred alternative is for “immediate introduction,” Green says it likely won’t happen until the winter of 2018–19. The technical details won’t be made final until after the 90-day required public comment period. Science Magazine

Photograph of Isle Royal, Michigan

To keep up to date on the reintroduction visit the Isle Royal Wolves & Moose website www.isleroyalewolf.org

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Check out Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin’s new film project about wolf advocates, “The Yellowstone Story” Yellowstone’s wolves face trophy hunters ready to kill them as soon as they step across park boundaries. Meet the wolf advocates fighting for the legacy of Yellowstone’s wolves…

Watch our pitch trailer

A film that presents the viewer with a complete picture of what it means to advocate for an imperiled species protected within Yellowstone National Park; contrasted against an uncertain future because of wolf hunting taking place just beyond the park’s borders.

“Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy- The Yellowstone Story” tells the stories of people working to preserve the legacy of wolves in Yellowstone National Park. A Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Film. Produced by Rachel Tilseth and Maaike Middleton and Directed by Rachel Tilseth. In this clip wolf advocates share their stories. Ilona Popper is a writer and advocate for wolves. Dr. Nathan Varley and Linda Thurston Wildlife biologists and business owners of The Wild Side Tours & Treks in Yellowstone National Park. Song credits: “Don’t Know Why, But They Do” Words & Music by Joe De Benedetti & Noah Hill. B roll credits thanks to National Park Service. www.wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin.com for more information. To support the film through a tax free contribution go to Plan B Foundation.

Learn more about our film project by clicking here.

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News about Isle Royal Wolves: The “genetic depression” afflicting the island’s wolves has been a topic of scientific and policy discussions for a long time…

 Sources: Now, Isle Royale research can shift to all that’s being lost with the wolves by Ron Medor April 21, 2016

The 2016 annual report on the Isle Royale wolf/moose study, published Monday, won’t be the last from this legendary research project, Rolf Peterson was saying.

  Three years of funding remains on the project’s major grant, and the focus can shift to impacts of wolf extinction: unchecked moose and beaver populations, reversal of the balsam fir’s recovery, and so on

Of course, these are matters of which science already knows a lot. But look out if whitetail deer gain a hoofhold.
Peterson, a researcher and former director of the wolf/moose project going back to 1971, believes two wolves remain alive on the island, although neither was actually sighted during this year’s winter survey, which concluded prematurely on Feb. 25 because of “administrative constraints” applied by the National Park Service.

  
One survivor is male and one female, and they are thought to have produced a pup as recently as 2014, but the animals are 6 and 8 years old and unlikely to produce more new wolves, which in their circumstances is probably just as well. Click HERE to read more.
Isle Royal Photographs