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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Will National Park Officials insert additional Wolves onto Isle Royale now that the island's population is at the extinction point of 3 animals, down from 9 a year ago ? ............ The Island is the site of the longest running Wolf/Moose research study in the wild, having just completing 57 consecutive years of monitoring the island dynamics of predator and prey..........The lead Research Scientists Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich have been in conflict with Park Officials over the need to reintroduce additional wolves onto the island............ Park Officals want to wait until a full extinction plays out to determine whether to "plant" new families of wolves onto the island...........Peterson/Vucetich have long argued that we have permanently altered the incidence of winter ice bridges forming with the mainland and therefore the odds of lone wolves migrating onto the island(to infuse new genes into the existing wolves) without assistance from man has been reduced to virtually nil(despite this past winters freeze--which has not happened in decades as climate change has reared it's head))................“The study of what’s left will continue"............... “But the wolves, I expect, won’t last long". … "The future (on Isle Royale) would seem to be one without wolves, and moose without any predator to hold them in check". …“It’s very sad that we’ve gotten to this point".......... “It didn’t have to be this way"--Rolf Peterson

Researchers say just three wolves remain on Isle Royale

Researchers say it appears just three wolves remain on Isle Royale, down from nine a year ago and the fewest reported on the Lake Superior island since scientists started studying the population nearly 60 years ago.

“There’s now so few wolves left that they’re virtually doomed,” he said.
Rolf Peterson, who has worked on the study for more than 40 years, said researchers know one radio-collared wolf died last year on the island. As for the other five wolves that were there in 2014 but not this winter, they were not radio-collared — so there’s no way to know for sure what happened. Some may have died, and others may have crossed an ice bridge to the mainland late in the winter of 2013-14, after that season’s survey was done.
The identity of the remaining wolves won’t be verified until genetic testing is completed this year, but Peterson said researchers suspect they’re an adult male and female about 4 to 5 years old — nearing the end of the average lifespan of a wolf in the wild.
The third wolf appears to be a pup, perhaps 9 months old, and researchers said it shows signs of genetic defects — perhaps an abnormal spine. Inbreeding among the small, isolated wolf population on Isle Royale — and potential resulting physical deformities — has been a concern for years.
That has prompted calls in past years by some observers — including Peterson and study co-leader John Vucetich, an associate professor at Michigan Tech — to consider a “genetic rescue” for the island's wolves by bringing in new wolves from outside the park.
A year ago park leaders opted against an emergency genetic rescue of wolves, saying they would instead conduct a long-term environmental review of the park's diminished wolf population.
Isle Royale National Park Superintendent Phyllis Green said Friday that plans for the review continue to move forward, and the results of the most winter recent survey won’t affect that process. A decision to step in and alter the course of nature in the park isn’t one to be taken lightly, she said.
Green said a review will look at the entire island ecosystem —  including but not limited to wolves — and consider existing rules and regulations for the national park. There also needs to be an examination of whether a genetic rescue or other possible intervention would have a chance of succeeding, she said.
“To the best of our ability, we have to try to think through all the different scenarios that could play out,” she said. Park staff and researchers need to identify the “best path forward” before moving ahead.
There’s still apparently a breeding pair of wolves on the island, Green noted, and there’s still a chance that outside wolves could wander over on their own across an ice bridge in winter from the North Shore of Lake Superior. Two wolves did just that in February, 4researchers said previously, though they stayed only a few days before returning to the mainland.
But even if park officials suddenly decided to allow outside wolves to be brought to the island,  Vucetich said in a news release Friday that with just three wolves left "there is now a good chance that it is too late to conduct genetic rescue.”
Wolves are relatively new to the island, having crossed the ice in 1949. Their numbers reached a high of 50 in 1980.
The island’s moose population, meanwhile, has grown steadily in recent years — an average 22 percent increase in each of the past four years. About 1,250 moose now roam the island, up significantly from a low of 385 in 2007 but far from the peak of near 2,500 in the 1990s.
The wolves remaining on the island apparently killed just one moose last winter, researchers said — the lowest number on record for the study.
Peterson said that if wolves are taken out of the equation, the moose population may grow to the point that it harms plant life on the island — and then crashes, as it did in the 1990s.
“The study of what’s left will continue,” Peterson said of his research efforts. “But the wolves, I expect, won’t last long. … The future (on Isle Royale) would seem to be one without wolves, and moose without any predator to hold them in check. …“It’s very sad that we’ve gotten to this point,” he said. “It didn’t have to be this way.”
More information
Find the complete winter survey report here.

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