Isle Royale

This year’s Winter Study of the wolves and moose of Isle Royale found that there are still just two wolves hanging out on the island.

The Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project has been tracking the rare ecosystem on Isle Royale for almost 60 years. What makes Isle Royale rare is that the island, located in Lake Superior roughly 50 miles from the Upper Peninsula, has just two main animals inhabiting it. The food chain is simple: The wolves are the predators and the moose are the prey.

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Recently, the tracking of the wolves and moose on Isle Royale led to an unlikely musical creation. 

The winter study of the wolves and moose on Isle Royale is heading into its 59th year. The wolf-moose study is the longest running study of any predator and its prey in the world.

Scientists from Michigan Tech spend several weeks on the island in the middle of winter every year. They'll be heading back out soon.

Just two wolves left on Isle Royale

Apr 19, 2016

This year’s winter study on the wolves and moose of Isle Royale is out today.

It says it appears there are only two wolves left – down from three last year, and a high of 50 in the 1980s.

Rolf Peterson is a research professor at Michigan Tech University. He says these last two wolves are closely related.

“They’re father and daughter and they’re also half-siblings, because they share the same mother," he says.

The National Park Service is taking a closer look at whether or not to bring more grey wolves to Isle Royale National Park. Only two wolves remain on the island now.

To help make its decision, the park service wants to hear from you. It’s accepting public comments on the question right now.

The wolf population on Isle Royale has been dropping for some time.

There were nine animals last year, and in their latest winter study report, researchers on Isle Royale only spotted these three wolves on the entire island:

Isle Royale has been home to the longest running predator-prey study in the world -- researchers have been studying how wolves prey on moose here since 1958.

The winter study of the wolves and moose on Isle Royale is heading into its 57th year. 

The wolf-moose study is the longest continuous study of any predator and its prey in the world.

Scientists Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich spend seven weeks on the island in the middle of winter every year. They'll be heading back out in a few weeks.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

A Michigan Tech biologist says wolves should be brought to Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior if officials want to save island vegetation.

John Vucetich heads a study of the predator-prey relationship in the park between wolves and moose. He says more wolves would help keep the moose population under control. He says, if left unchecked, moose will over-browse and decimate the island’s vegetation.

Vucetich says this is the point where scientists must ask themselves what the purpose of a protected area is.

Bad News for Isle Royale Wolves

Mar 26, 2013

A new report says the wolf population on Isle Royale is in dire straits. Researchers could find no evidence in their winter survey that any pups were born last year.

It’s the first time in 40 years that wolves failed to reproduce.

John Vucetich says the small population is so inbred that the remaining eight animals either won’t or can’t produce offspring.

A new report shows wolves on Isle Royale have taken a sudden turn towards extinction.

For half-a-century, scientists have studied the predator-prey behavior of wolves and moose on the island. It's the longest running wildlife study in the world. 

The National Park Service manages Isle Royale as a wilderness, with a hand-off policy of not intervening. But some researchers say if the wolves die out, the moose will radically change the island's ecology. 

Isle Royale Wolves Face Extinction

Mar 16, 2012

A new report shows wolves on Isle Royale have taken a sudden turn towards extinction. With nine animals counted this winter, the population is the lowest it's ever been in the last half-century. Researchers aren't sure what's caused this latest decline.

Twenty years ago, a disease called Canine Parvovirus reduced the Island's wolf population to twelve. Since then, their numbers have gotten as high as thirty.