WILDLIFE: Isle Royale gray wolves bear no pups this year
(Tuesday, March 26, 2013)
Researchers are concerned about Isle Royale National Park's gray wolf population, as it appears the increasingly threatened population has failed to produce any pups this year.
After reporting zero sightings of pups living with the pack in northern Michigan, researchers expressed worry that the wolves have stopped reproducing. Only eight wolves remain in the pack, down from 24 five years ago. The findings appear in a new report from Michigan Technological University.
Wolf populations have rebounded elsewhere around the Great Lakes, leading to their removal from the federal endangered species list. But biologist John Vucetich, who leads what the university and the National Park Service say is the world's longest study of predators and prey in one ecosystem, said that after years of inbreeding, the Isle Royale population may be unwilling or unable to mate.
"Next year will be very telling," Vucetich said. "If they don't reproduce two years in a row ... it would seem the end is imminent."
He said other contributing factors to the population's decline could be disease and a dearth of food (John Flesher, Associated Press, March 25). -- WW