Researchers are growing concerned about the current population of wolves on Michigan’s Isle Royale. In fact, a study that started 58 years ago with as many as 50 wolves in the pack has dwindled down to just three. It was reported last week that the findings were official, and that one of the pups in the group didn’t look well enough to be considered a stable member of the pack. The team pointed out that it’s likely far too late for genetic rescue, which means that options are running low to either keep the pack there, or allow them to survive. Essentially, scientists are being backed into a corner to make a choice. They either have to choose the survival of the pack, or the study of the animals.
However, the study was funded to continue for another five years despite the fact that the wolves are gone. For many that was a great sign. The study is something that has been going for nearly 60 years and at this point would be a shame – should the study come to an end before the pack is entirely gone. Things though haven’t looked good for the pack in some time. In fact, the team pointed out that it’s been since the late 1990s that the last male entered the pack. At that point, the population in the region simply didn’t support any further growth.
The researchers pointed out of the sick pup that; “It would not be surprising if the pup was dead a year from today.” However, even with just three members, it’s a decrease of 88% since 2009. That’s the bigger concern for researchers at this point is how the word “naturally” is used in this setting.
The co-lead author pointed out that, “One must use the word, ‘naturally’, and carefully these days, ”finishing by pointing out that“ The human imprint is written all over the dynamics of this wolf population in recent decades The concern is real, and now, more extreme measures will be needed to preserve the animals on Michigan’s Isle Royale.