The Isle Royale National Park from Michigan is now hosting only three wolves which is making researchers concerned whether these animals will survive or disappear.
During the yearly Winter Study, scientists have noticed nine wolves last winter, in the same region. Finding out that in one year the number has dropped to 3 wolves came as a devastating news as it has never been this low.
The decrease of the wolves population has been huge for the past years as six years ago in the national park there were 24 wolves and presently there are only 3, which is a diminishing of 88%. One of the reasons for this happening might be due to inbreeding which leads to deformities and sickness. Researchers have to bring in new genetic material as it might be the only chance of survival for this group of wolves.
It is possible that it is already too late for researchers to manage to start a genetic rescue, explained professor of ecology and co leader of the research, John Vucetich.
The group of three wolves is made out of two adults(which seems to be a pair) and a pup of nine months old, which most probably is their baby. What is even more concerning is the fact that the pup doesn’t seem to be in good health.
Its physical appearance lead researchers to believe that he is suffering from a health condition, as he is walking hunched, his tail seems deformed and his waistline is very narrow. Considering its condition, the pup might not even have much to live and by next year it might be dead, stated Vucetich.
But the situation wouldn’t be happier even if the pup was healthy, as we are talking about only 2 adult wolves left, who in theory should repopulate and the chances for that to happen are practically zero.
Even if the two adult wolves are a pair, their pups will be in a tough situation. Scientists are making genetic tests to get more information on the identities of the wolves and which pack they belong too. They assume that the two wolves are the alpha pair from the wolves pack from West Park.
If this proves to be true, none of them will be interested in mating with a different as these animals mate for life. . Researchers believe that the only solution for the wolves to be saved is for them to breed with wolves who are brought from another area or to breed naturally.
Even so, researchers have their hopes up and believe that there might be visiting wolves that could save the population from this island. While they were conducting their study, scientists noticed two wolves who came visit after which they left.
One of them had a light color, which is a trait uncommon for the island wolves and another one had a radio collar on. The visitors stayed just for a short period of time and chances are they didn’t even realized the three other wolves were there.
Human activities have largely contributed to the decrease in the wolf population all over the United States. Hunting has diminished the gray wolves population close to extinction and the situation of the species is analysed to see if it will be put on the extinction list or not.
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