Scientists interested in the Isle Royale wolf population can breathe a sigh of relief finally. They had been laboriously working to find the reason for the declining number of wolves. A gruesome detection of a dead alpha male, a female and another male in a mine shaft had them twiddling their thumbs with worry. The dead wolves had been found by the National Park Service Staff.
In a winter research study made public in March, biologist John Vucetich ecologist Rolf Peterson and biologist John Vucetich working with the Michigan Technological University made a statement of worry regarding the gray wolf population in Isle’s Royale. The population of wolves faced disappearance and a total of only countable nine wolves remained. Mystery shrouded as to why the wolves were dying.
The scientists decided to point a finger at the moose population, the staple diet of the wolves. They felt that it was the lack of moose that was leading to the death of the wolves. Another reason given by the scientists was lack of the female wolf population and the inbreeding in the pack.
“We now understand a major reason for the decline in pack size,” Vucetich told the Michigan Press that he felt that the wolves carelessly had slipped into the shaft full of water sometime in the winter and were found out by his team when they had come for the yearly 7 week study in January.
Alpha male or the pack leader, a collared male who was being searched for and a female who had been born last year had died. Vucetich after watching the wolves in January, claimed that it’s “why we saw such a desultory pattern of travel and low kill rate in this pack.” the pack was rudderless with no “game plan” as the wolf team was without a pack leader.
Another such incident at the Park Service will not be welcomed so the sealing of the 1800’s mine shaft is under contemplation. But Phyllis Green the park superintendent felt that this is just one incident. He said that the wolves had been attacked by a highly contagious virus in 1980’s, reducing the wolf population to only 12 from a count of 50.
“Random events often play a large role in isolated island populations,” Phyllis Green said to the Michigan Tech. “Information from this event will serve to help us evaluate future management.”
Scientists and Park officials are pondering whether wolves from the mainland should be added to the pack or they should lie low and watch the old ones die away to start afresh.
The Tech scientists plan to study the carcass of the three dead wolves for further details.