Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

Only 3 gray wolves left on Isle Royale, scientists fear they won't survive

Author:

The presence of gray wolves at Isle Royale National Park could come to an end soon, with a recent census finding only three remain.

The Pioneer Press reports that inbreeding and illness has led to a "sharp drop-off" in wolf numbers, which stood at 24 in 2009 but has continued to fall since.

The island in Lake Superior and its population of wolves and moose have been subject to a scientific study for more than 50 years, the newspaper notes.

According to the Detroit News, the moose population has now risen to 1,250 because the number of wolves who prey on them has fallen so drastically.

The newspaper adds that the leaders of the study, Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich, from Michigan Technological University, have been calling on park officials to bring more wolves to the island to "replenish the gene" pool.

But even then there is a chance the wolves won't survive or proliferate, with the Star Tribune noting that the three remaining wolves consist of two adults and a 9-month old pup.

The two adults are believed to be a breeding pair, so they are unlikely to mate with another wolf, and though they could have more pups together, Peterson told the newspaper they are reaching the end of their reproductive lives.

"You don't have the sense there is much time left." he said, adding that the other option would be moving an entirely new wolf pack over to the 45-mile long island.

Figures from the Isle Royale Wolf and Moose Project show that wolf numbers peaked at around 50 in 1980. Moose numbers reached around 2,400 in 1990s, which led to mass starvation due to a harsh winter in 1996.

Next Up

unsplash cold winter breath dark

Hello, winter: List of the coldest wind chills in MN Monday morning

The state went from a relatively mild start of the season, to downright frigid wind chills.

deer

1 CWD-positive deer in Brainerd Lakes area, so surveillance will continue

The CWD monitoring measures were supposed to end after this year.

unsplash - visitor patient doctor hospital emergency - crop

MN program will train, hire 1,000 nursing assistants for long-term care

The facilities are facing a severe staffing shortage.

Minnesota State Fair - main gate day 2021

Minnesota State Fair reestablishes a police department

The fair had been contracting with the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office.

teacher, covid, masks, school

Minnetonka to consider removing middle school mask requirement

The school board has been impressed by vaccination rates among middle school students.

snow, plow

Friday winter storm could hit Twin Cities, southern Minnesota

Meteorologist Sven Sundgaard is already monitoring the forecast.

Sauk Rapids Middle School street view, Minnesota - November 2018_

Teen student arrested for threats toward MN middle school

The Sauk Rapids middle school and high school were closed Monday.

_DSC0318

Rally for trans child outed during Hastings school board race draws big crowd

Hastings has been in the spotlight since the child's family was featured in a CNN story.

chad davis arradondo flickr

Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo to retire next month

He's overseen the MPD since mid-2017, following the killing of Justine Ruszczyk Damond

covid

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, December 6

The latest from the state health department.

2560px-Foo_Fighters_-_Southside_Festival_2019_4184_-_1

'Minneapolis, we're coming!!!': Foo Fighters announce rescheduled concert

The previously announced Huntington Bank Stadium was cancelled.

Related

Wolves on Isle Royale nearly extinct

Scientists say one of the world's most closely studied predator populations might vanish within a few years. The Associated Press says a streak of bad luck has left only nine wolves on the island in western Lake Superior. Scientists blame a shortage of females, inbreeding, disease and starvation caused by the decline in moose populations.

Playtime over for the moose on Isle Royale ... the wolves are coming

The National Park Service confirmed they'll add 20-30 wolves to the island by 2023.