Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Historic wolf population in Michigan could be gone forever

Photo courtesy MDNR
Wolves may be having a pretty successful comeback in Michigan and in many other states too, but our nation is coming awfully close to losing one of very few packs that can trace its roots on U.S. soil back to at least the 1940s.
That pack is a Michigan pack; right here on our Isle Royale. 
Most wolves are either transplants or travelers making the long trek down from Canada themselves to resettle old wolf ranges.
Back in the 1940s, it was a pack of Canadian travelers that settled on Isle Royale.
By the 1970s, wolves were completely eradicated from everywhere in the lower 48 states except two places, and Isle Royale was one of them. (Fact check me? Read National Geographic's Wolf Wars)
The pack has continued to live on there, finding a way to beat our nation's desire at one time to have all wolves dead and gone for good, beating the trials of harsh winters, disease and more.
All this time, they've managed to keep their bloodlines alive.
Now, the Isle Royale pack is in serious danger.
They're down to just two females. If the females don't successfully mate, the pack could die out; those fighting bloodlines gone forever. (Read the Associated Press story, Wolves of Michigan's Isle Royale National Park may go extinct)
What a loss that would be — not just for Isle Royale, not just for Michigan, but for our entire nation. 

Read previous posts about wolves in Michigan
A western war heading east?
Killing wolves in Michigan
Wolves in Michigan

Check out an in-depth article I wrote for the paper about wolves in Michigan
Michigan wolf pack surpasses requirement for endangered species listing, yet they remain protected


  1. I don't know if you know this but they are also severely inbred. I know Michigan Tech does alot of research on the Isle Royal Wolf and Moose Population.

  2. I didn't know that, but it makes sense. Sounds like trying to add some new wolves to the island would be a good thing — mix up those gene pools a bit.