A trail camera in Michigan captured footage of the last two wolves left on Isle Royale.
Isle Royale is a US National Park. It just so happens that this park is an island on the border of the United States and Canada on Lake Superior.
Wolf researcher Rolf Peterson placed a trail camera on the island, and now the Michigan Technological University biologist has captured footage of the last known surviving wolves on the Isle Royale.
The incredible pair are known to be the last surviving father and his daughter. These two gray wolves, or Canis lupus, come from the same mother which shows the intense inbreeding that has all but destroyed the island’s wolf pack.
The video is good, but just shows a glimpse of the half-sibling wolves walking down a moose trail at night. The pair seen are unusual even as inbreeding goes. Peterson said, “-another way of trying to summarize their inbred status is to point out that the female is the product of the male’s mating with his own mother. The female is six years old and the male is eight.”
Gray wolves came to the island some 50 years ago by crossing frozen Lake Superior in the winter. The wolf population was once around 50 animals, and averaged about 25 a year until inbreeding began to take its toll.
Since moose can devour up to 40 pounds of vegetation a day, the inevitable loss of the wolves will have a devastating effect on the island’s ecosystem. Even though Peterson and his colleagues support a ‘genetic rescue’ of the wolves by bringing in outside animals to bolster the population, it’s unknown whether another plan -the idea of a controlled moose hunt in the park- would be welcome.
In the mid-1990’s after a severe winter some 2,000 moose died of starvation and other causes due in part to a lack of wolf predation. One way or another, a waste like that cannot happen again.