Isle Royale wolves get a tiny bit of genetic renewal-

Wolf Crosses the Lake Superior Ice to Become Leader of the Pack. By Nicholas Bakolar. New York Times.

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Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

8 Responses to Wolf Crosses the Lake Superior Ice to Become Leader of the Pack

  1. avatar Christopher Harbin says:

    I believe this story was touched on by another post a few weeks back. This is good news and a really interesting story. Two problems though:
    1. One wolf is probably not enough to change the gene pool (although it could be enough).
    2. The boys on Isle Royale need some women! Apparently there are only two females left and if memory serves me right the are mother and daughter. I thought this kind of thing only happened in Kentucky!

  2. avatar howlcolorado says:

    This is a historical retrospective discovery Christopher. If my memory serves, this is a wolf from about 10-12 years ago who entered their gene pool and took control of the pack.

    So the genetic health of the pack was aided by this migration, and it’s the “post mortem” investigation of wolf DNA a foreign wolf entered the DNA mix.

    The more recent history related to inbreeding, spinal deformity and a general indication that after about 50 years, the Isle Royale wolf and moose populations are in real decline and genetic trouble was probably significantly delayed by this adventurous and domineering wolf.

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      howlcolorado,

      I believe you are correct, that is is a restrospective story, about 14 years ago

  3. avatar Alan Gregory says:

    Amazing that there was enough ice for the wolf to hike on, given the ongoing demise of real winter weather.

  4. avatar Phil says:

    The lone wolf (unless another lone male wolf crossed the ice to the island this past winter) was a great find when observing the genetic pool, but, as some have mentioned, and Immer a couple posts ago, it occured in 1997. The male wolf has already passed his gene line to 56% (9) current wolves on the island. Inbreeding is still a problem, but hopefully it will never alter the population as I believe the current population drop is due to the fluctuation of increase followed by a decrease followed by an incease… one (IMO). As Christopher mentioned, there are only two females left on the island. That might be the biggest problem in regards to not only inbreeding, but the future population of wolves on the island.

    Immer: Was it you that mentioned you worked with the Isle Royale wolves before?

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      Phil,

      I’ve put in perhaps sixty days on Isle Royale in the past, but I have never worked with the wolves. What I did do, was with the help of the International Wolf Center, but together a rather dynamic study of the predator-prey relationship between the wolves and moose for my classes.

      • avatar Harley says:

        That is one really awesome study. I remember you speaking of it before Immer Treue. The dynamics of it fascinate me. Wonder what they will do, if anything, for the remaining wolves there?

  5. avatar Brent says:

    Alan,

    Winter and spring have been very cold this year in the midwest.

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