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

https://vimeo.com/264686221

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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A new study proves more wolves have been subject to poaching than the DNR reported.

Study by Adrian Treves and other scientists published in the  Journal of Mammalogy: The UW study investigated the deaths of 937 gray wolves from October 1979 to April 2012 — a period that ends before Wisconsin initiated hunting seasons for wolves. Of the 937 wolves that died and whose deaths were investigated, 431 wore radio collars.
The UW researchers said that their analysis showed that the death of radio-collared wolves attributed to human causes was 64%. But the DNR calculated 55% and said an additional 18% of deaths were due to unknown causes, according to a DNR report in 2012.
Said Treves: “That’s a big number. We dug deeper and maybe it’s poaching.”
The researchers re-examined government records of necropsies and X-rays and found in some instances that gunshot wounds were a factor in the cause of death when other causes were cited.
The analysis also showed 52 wolves, or 20% of 256 animals that were X-rayed, revealed evidence of gunshots that did not kill the wolves. These cases were not added to researchers’ own estimates of higher poaching.
But the study said that figure lends credibility to the researchers’ claim that more wolves have been subject to poaching than the DNR reported.
Julie Langenberg, one of the authors of the study and a former DNR veterinarian, re-examined wolf death records.
She found evidence of gunshots that in the initial analysis were either mentioned briefly or not identified. Sometimes it was her own work.
“You are not looking at alternative facts,” Langenberg said of her review of wolf mortality in the study. “You are looking at the same facts, but because you are asking different questions, you are doing a different kind of assessment.”
She said the DNR’s job was to simply determine the cause of death.
Wisconsin officials reported that 528 wolves were killed during the state’s wolf hunting seasons in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
During 2013, 257 wolves were killed — nearly half of all wolves harvested during the three years. Then the wolf population dropped 18% from 809 in 2013 to 660 in 2014.
The hunts were halted in December 2014 by a federal judge who said Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan were violating the Endangered Species Act. This year, Congress, including Republicans and Democrats from Wisconsin, introduced a bill to replace federal protections with state management. Read full article in the Journal Sentinel click HERE

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Featured image by John E Marriott 

Wolves may generate cascading effects through changes in coyote distribution. 

These changes benefit hares and foxes, while also reducing the deer mouse population in some years. Journal of Mammalogy

Article Source: greatlakesecho.org Foxes join #TeamWolf versus #TeamCoyote

By Karen Hopper Usher 

It’s wolves vs coyotes vs foxes, and the effects of this competition are felt on down the food chain to deer mice, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Mammalogy

Read full article click HERE: It’s what scientists call a “mesopredator release,” Flagel said. The mesopredator (medium-sized predator) is released from the conditions that keep it in check, and the effects are felt on down the food chain.

But now the wolves are coming back and there’s evidence of cascading effects caused by their return.

It shows the reversal of the effects of coyote taking over the eastern United States, Flagel said.

“What we’re seeing here is gray wolf recovery can benefit small carnivores and rabbits and hares by changing or redistributing coyotes, and also deer mice decrease in some years,” Flagel said.

This isn’t the first study that has looked at the impacts of wolves on our ecosystems, said David MacFarland, large carnivore specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “But anything that adds to enhanced understanding is beneficial as we’re making management decisions.”

And it’s not just wolves that are coming back in the upper Midwest, MacFarland said. Bears are also more common than they were.

“Large carnivore communities are doing better than they have in the past hundred years,” he said. Meanwhile, large carnivores in other parts of the world are in “significant peril.”
Scientific reaction to the study has so far been positive, Flagel said. He’s been presenting his findings at wildlife conferences.

Flagel’s team was the first do a study like this at such a fine scale, Flagel said, and that’s important because that’s where the wolf, fox and coyote interactions are happening. 

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Featured image by John E Marriott