The Michigan Technological University recently released the results of its 59th annual winter survey of wolves. Per this latest report, the Isle Royale National Park wolf population remains a single pair, revealing a severely damaging imbalance in the predators to prey relation.
The Two Isle Royale Wolves Have Been Living Like This For Two Years
The Isle Royale National Park is currently home to over 1600 moose. This number could double in as little as 3 to 4 years. The moose rely on vegetation as their primary source of food, and the large population is over-eating the park’s balsam fir trees. Without a decrease in numbers, soon, the moose population will begin to exhaust their food supply. In turn, this could lead to mass starvation.
The Isle Royale wolves would naturally control the park’s moose population. However, with only two remaining, researchers and ecologists must now consider the possibility of introducing new specimens to the area.
The two remaining Isle Royale Wolves are a 7-year-old female and a 9-year-old male. They are believed to be too old to reproduce. The rapid decline in the wolf population is due to an extended period of inbreeding. This resulted in genetic issues that inhibited the gray wolves’ ability to survive. The Gray Wolf population of the Isle Royal National Park has decreased from 24 in the 2009 survey to the last two remaining ones in the most recent survey.
This is now the second year in a row that the wolf population has remained at 2. Ecologists were unsurprised last season when the pair failed to produce a pup.
The drastic decline in the wolf population is also beginning to affect other parts of the ecology, which also rely on the predators for population control. For example, the Park’s beaver population has tripled over the last 6 years.
This massive change to the ecological system in Isle Royale National Park could and most likely will result in detrimental changes to the local ecosystem.
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