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‘Unknown’ Wolf Visitors, Rebuffed Incest, Hungry Moose Highlight New Isle Royale Report

posted Jun 30, 2019, 7:37 PM by chloe owens

5/2/2019, by Tanda Gmiter, MLive

‘Unknown’ wolf visitors, rebuffed incest, hungry moose highlight new Isle Royale report

…unlike recent years where island-watchers were just waiting to see if the remote island's last two wolves had survived another year while the number of moose steadily ticked upward, this year's report has a little drama tucked inside its pages. There are new wolves to track, intense territorial patrolling by the two old island-born wolves, some bared-teeth rebuffing of incestuous courtship, and even some "unknown" wolf tracks that likely show a group of mainland wolves visited the island for a few days this winter and sampled some moose kill leftovers. Yes, there's the expected rise in moose, this year topping 2,000. Their numbers have been allowed to grow nearly predator-free for years in the face of the island's dwindling wolf pack. Their population is at near record-high levels, and their browsing diet is putting a big dent in the wilderness island's vegetation…The two island-born wolves - an older, related pair that can't have viable offspring - have been joined so far by 13 new wolves from Minnesota and Canada…The only two island-born wolves left from Isle Royale's old Chippewa Harbor Pack, this father-daughter pair had been the only wolves left on the island for several years…the male, age 10, and the female, 8, remain "tightly bonded and highly territorial," say researchers…At the end of January, one of the three initial female wolves from Minnesota used an ice bridge created during the Polar Vortex freeze to travel back toward Canada and Minnesota. Researchers tracked her via her GPS collar, and the Michigan Tech group followed up with a fly-over, seeing her tracks in the snow leading off the island and over the frozen ice, headed north…the winter survey found a booming moose population on the island. The latest estimate is 2,060 moose packed onto the 206-square-mile archipelago.