More Cur "puke" on wolves...ROFLMAO

Submitted by cur on 1/21/05 at 6:20 PM. ( )

Well, Jay, first of all, I can find no record of any stockings of wolves on Isle Royale since the original in 1952. The on-going study rules out introduction of additional rules for fear of tainting the data. If you check the link below to read the Wolf/Moose population dynamics for the past 25 years, you will notice that while moose populations vary considerably, the wolf populations vary little. After I search Michigan State and Federal Data banks regarding additional stockings of wolves without finding reference, I phoned the Michigan DNR and the State park Folks, and they have no recollection of additional stockings since the original introduction.

The Wolf's status is going to change soon, with control going to the state folks and away from the Federal Government......But learning about that program will require checking out the second link in this post.

Now, this pile of puke is cut and paste, and I will be the first to admit it, but it is all valid DATA and not heresay, mine or others:

Cut and Paste time....


Control of the Moose Population

Although the wolves are killing many moose and the herd seems stable, is it accurate to say they are controlling the moose population? It might be argued that they are not, for Isle Royale supports one of the highest year-round moose densities reported (page 98), and the yearling-total population ratio compares favorably with figures from wolf-free areas. This agrees with work by Cowan (1947) in the Rocky Mountain national parks of Canada. He found that yearlings composed 22 percent of 178 moose observations in wolf-inhabited areas and 23 percent of 187 observations in wolf-free areas.

There also was no apparent difference in survival rates of young elk, deer, or sheep in the two areas. Evidently wolf predation compensates to a greater or lesser degree for other types of calf mortality. The important question is whether wolves merely substitute for other mortality factors or whether they kill more animals than other factors would.

The history of the Isle Royale moose herd affords an answer. Before wolves became established, the herd increased to an estimated 1,000 to 3,000 animals in the 1930's, decreased drastically a few years later, and built up again in the late 1940's (page 22). The limiting factor was food supply. Signs of severe over-browsing are still evident. In fact one species, Canada yew (Taxus canadensis), has been suppressed greatly on Isle Royale, whereas it grows luxuriantly on nearby Passage Island, which is uninhabited by moose. Today there appears to be sufficient browse, because much of the second-growth birch, aspen, and willow in the 1936 burn is growing beyond the reach of moose, and new stands of balsam fir and aspen a few feet high have become evident in other areas for the first time in decades.

Apparently the wolves are maintaining the moose population below the level at which food would restrict it. If the wolves were exterminated, a significant increase in moose numbers probably would be noticed within a few years; when the population overtook its food supply, another die-off would occur, and the cycle would repeat itself. Malnutrition, disease, and parasitism probably would be the mortality factors, and these tend to cause catastrophic losses instead of the low, steady mortality which characterizes predation.
Apparently the Isle Royale wolf and moose populations have reached a state of dynamic equilibrium. Each is relatively stable, so any substantial fluctuation in one probably would be absorbed by the other until another equilibrium is reached.

For example, wolves must travel long distances and test many animals before dispatching one. If some extraordinary factor suddenly reduced the moose population by half, the wolves probably would have such difficulty killing enough animals that inferior individuals might not be allowed to share what prey is taken. Conversely, if the moose population increased significantly, wolves would find easier hunting and might eat only preferred parts of their prey, as the wolves did in Minnesota when deer were more plentiful (Stenlund, 1955). Increased predation then might reduce the herd to a level that again rendered hunting more difficult.

Probably a close predator-prey equilibrium would most likely occur in such a situation as the Isle Royale ecosystem, where populations are discrete and the wolf depends on only one prey species. Undoubtedly the low prey-predator ratio, 30 moose per wolf, also is important. In Mount McKinley National Park, where Murie (1944) concluded that wolves controlled the Dall sheep, there is an estimated 25 to 37 sheep per wolf (calculated from Murie).

However, in areas where wolves do not control prey populations, the ratio is much larger. Figures from Cowan (1947) show that there are 300 to 400 head of big game per wolf in the Rocky Mountain national parks of Canada. Cowan concluded (p. 172) the following about predation in the area:

Under the existing circumstances the predators present, coyote, wolf, fox, lynx, wolverine, mountain lion, grizzly, and black bear, together are not taking the annual net increment to the game herds, nor even removing the cull group, a large part of which becomes carrion following death from disease, parasitism, or malnutrition.
In wolf-inhabited areas of Minnesota, there are about 153 deer per wolf (calculated from Stenlund, 1955), and Stenlund estimated that wolves were killing about 16 percent of the herd, much less than the annual turnover.

In British Columbia, Hatter (1950a) found that wolves could not control the irrupting moose population. Arnold (1954) reported that in Michigan, where deer greatly outnumber wolves, the wolves were not controlling the herd. In Alaska, Klein and Olsen (1960), found that deer-inhabited areas free from wolves are characterized by stable or slowly increasing populations exceeding carrying capacity; heavy winter mortality; and severely deteriorated range, whereas in wolf-inhabited areas, range and deer appeared to be in fair to good condition, with light winter mortality from starvation. The authors emphasized that factors other than the wolf may be involved.

Maintenance of a Healthy Herd

An obvious result of intensive predation on Isle Royale moose is the elimination of heavily parasitized, diseased, old, or otherwise inferior individuals. Since 14 of 36 wolf-killed adults (39 percent) showed debilitating conditions even though only bones were examined from most, it seems safe to assume that every adult killed is either inferior or a victim of some circumstance predisposing it to predation. This becomes especially evident when one considers that the 15 to 16 wolves tested an average of 13 moose for each one they killed while under observation (page 144). If this ratio applies from November 1 to May 20, when a calculated 146 moose should be killed, approximately 1,898 moose would be tested in that period and undoubtedly many others are tested during summer.

Since the wolves travel to every part of the island (figures 46, 47, and 3, showing the foot trails used by wolves in summer), they should detect any weak or inferior moose in a short time. Culling benefits any population, but it probably is especially important to Isle Royale's dense herd. It may even be the reason that such a high population has survived. Inferior animals undoubtedly use food less efficiently and reproduce less effectively, so in a herd crowding its environment, these animals would be least desirable.

Research in several other locations has shown that predation on big game exerts a culling effect. Murie's classic study (1944) of wolves and Dall sheep proved this beyond question in Mount McKinley National Park. Although evidence from other studies is not as conclusive, collectively it strongly supports the hypothesis. Hibben (1937) found that all of the 11 puma-killed deer he examined were either ill-proportioned, diseased, parasitized, or otherwise significantly abnormal compared to 74 hunter-killed deer. Cowan (1956) reported that on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, domestic dogs preyed primarily on malnourished and heavily parasitized deer.

In the Canadian Northwest Territories, Banfield (1954) studied the hunting techniques of wolves in caribou country and concluded that weak or inferior caribou would be among those most likely to succumb to the wolves' methods. Other results similar to these (Cowan, 1947; Peterson, 1955; Crisler, 1956, 1958) already have been discussed, as has work by Stenlund (1955) and Burkholder (1959), who found no evidence of a culling effect. However, one should remember that seldom are intact carcasses of wolf-killed animals available for examination, and even if they were, the psychological or behavioral factors that might predispose big game to predation still would go undetected.

A heavily cropped herd composed of healthy animals with sufficient food should reproduce vigorously. Probably one of the most sensitive indicators of a moose population's reproductive abilities is the twinning rate. Pimlott (1959b) summarized results of many studies, including his own, and found wide variation (2 to 28 percent) in rates of twinning; he also discussed the effect of nutrition on reproduction and concluded that "variations in adult fecundity may be caused by a number of nutritional factors that differ from one range to another." In Alberta and British Columbia, Cowan (1950) found that elk on overgrazed range had a twinning rate of less than 1 percent, whereas herds in better nutritive condition had a rate of 25 percent.
At present, Isle Royale moose appear to have one of the highest twinning rates reported. Of 53 cows seen with calves in the summer of 1959, 20 were accompanied by twins, a rate of 38 percent (figure 105). (If only 25 different cows were seen, the 95 percent confidence limits would be 19 percent and 57 percent.)

In 1960, which appeared to be a year of unusually low production, the twinning rate was 15 percent, on the basis of 47 observations of cows with calves. (The 95 percent confidence limits would be 1 percent and 29 percent if 25 different cows were observed.) In contrast, in 1929 when wolves were not present and moose overpopulated the island, Murie (1934) observed that only 1 of 45 cows with calves was accompanied by twins.

Future of the Wolves and Moose

Apparently the Isle Royale wolf population has increased to its maximum (under present conditions), for if it were going to increase further, it would have done so years ago. Numbers may fluctuate every few years, but probably there will be no significant variation. It seems likely that as long as the large pack remains on the island, the smaller groups will not breed. As individuals from these groups die of old age, the large pack may increase by a few members, although old animals from this pack may drop out and form other small groups; this also may stimulate breeding in the large pack. This is purely conjecture, however, for we know very little about the effects of pack interaction on breeding. Of course, emigration or immigration could complicate the whole situation. The most likely cause of variations in size of the wolf population probably would be a significant change in moose numbers.

The moose herd should remain stable for the next several years. Certainly if the wolves were going to deplete the population, they would have done so by now; instead they seem to have kept the herd within its food supply, culled out undesirable individuals, and stimulated reproduction. Indeed, the Isle Royale moose population probably is one of the best "managed" big-game herds in North America.
However, moose are dependent on the vegetation, and they flourish on earlier successional stages. Cowan et al. (1950) reported that, in British Columbia, moose numbers declined as the forest approached climax. These authors found that later successional stages supplied only about a third as much browse as earlier stages, and in regard to quality, they concluded (p. 249) the following:

There is an increase of carotene values and possibly of total mineral content in the vegetation on more advanced forest areas, but . . . in ascorbic acid content, ether extractives, total carbohydrates, and proteins, the vegetation upon the younger forest areas is superior to that on older areas.

One of the primary sources of winter browse on Isle Royale is the 1936 burn (figure 8), but the trees in much of this area are fast growing out of reach of the moose. Since modern fire detection systems make it improbable that many forest fires will escape in the future, it appears that within the next decade the moose population will decrease significantly, with a corresponding decline in wolf numbers. The level that either population will reach is unpredictable, but continued study of both wolf and moose throughout this period should prove highly enlightening.

This link will provide population dynamics data from 1975-2003:

Notice that while the wolf population has remained relatively stabile, the moose population dynamics have flucuated wildly, with the greatest die-offs coming at the hand of weather, and not wolf impact.

Status of Wolves on Isle Royale National Park, Michigan

Isle Royale National Park is the largest island in Lake Superior, encompassing 210 square miles. It is located 14 miles from the nearest landfall on the Canadian mainland. The wolf population varies annually, depending on food availability, as well as conflicts and fights between packs. Below are recent wolf population counts for the island:
1998 - 14
1999 - 25
2000 - 29
2001 - 19
2002 - 17
2003 - 19

The island's wolf-moose research study is the longest running predator-prey study in the world, now in its 45th year. A 2003 winter survey determined that 19 wolves live on the island, hunting in three distinct packs. Seven wolf pups born in 2002 survived, while territorial fights between packs claimed some mature wolves.

A severe outbreak of fleas last spring plagued the moose herd, killing some moose and leading to a poor calf crop. Calves born last year comprised only about 8 percent of the moose herd, compared to 13 percent in normal years. Consequently, the moose population droped from 1100 to about 900 moose. With limited number of moose, the wolf numbers have fluctuated between 19 and 17 during the past three years, down from a high of 29 in the year 2000.

History of Wolves in Isle Royale National Park:

Wolves first appeared on Isle Royale in the late 1940's, when a pair crossed the ice from either Minnesota or Ontario. There is no archeological evidence of wolves on the Island prior to this period, though research is limited. The Island has a substantial moose population, which became the primary food source. A formal monitoring program of the moose and wolves began in 1958.

Wolf numbers have varied between 12 and 50; moose numbers ranged from 500 to 2500. The wolf and moose populations on the Island follow a pattern of dynamic fluctuations, where high numbers of moose are followed by higher wolf numbers. Wolves influence moose numbers predominately through direct killing of calves and are the only consistent source of moose mortality on the Island. The moose-wolf population patterns held until a dramatic crash occurred in the wolf population in the early 1980's, in which wolf numbers dropped from 50 to 14. Wolf reproduction progressively declined during 1985 -1992, when numbers dropped to their lowest level - a dozen animals. As the moose population grew throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the wolf population failed to increase correspondingly.

Management and Direction

Management of the Isle Royale wolf population is guided by National Park Service (NPS) policy, the federal wolf recovery plan, and ongoing research. Concern over the decline of the wolf population in the late 1980s prompted the convening of a group of scientists representing NPS management, wolf ecologists, disease and genetics experts and conservation biology specialists. They agreed over the short-term that the wolf population in the Park should be allowed to proceed without intervention (including no introduction of new animals).

Intensive research, initiated in 1988, focused on three possible causes for the wolf decline: food shortage, disease, and genetic factors. Uncertainty remains over the causes of the wolf decline. Results from this research suggest that canine parvovirus played an important role in the population crash. High mortality in 1981-88 would have accelerated genetic decay in the wolf population. It is estimated that there has been a 50 percent loss of genetic variability in Isle Royale Wolves.

For those of you who wish to read the current and pending laws and regulations regarding Timber wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. I suggest you visit this site and read on.

I hope you take time to check the above link, it dispels a lot of heresay and back fence gossip about what is or isn't going to happen with the Great Lakes Region Wolf populations.

OK, I showed you mine, you show me yours.....

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This response submitted by John M on 1/21/05 at 7:55 PM. ( )

brings back a lot of memories, my Dad was the Cheif Engineer on the Ranger III that went from the U.P. to Isle Royale. I spent many nights camped out and fishing on the Is. Never saw a wolf but did see many moose. There are many stories of moose that have left the Island to Canada via boat,in quarters. They caught some poachers I beleive in the past few years that operated that way. Thanks for the memories! I'm heading there in the spring.

Isle royale was a great place

This response submitted by The Taxidermologist on 1/21/05 at 8:28 PM. ( )

I read with great interest the wolf post by Randy, continued here by Cur. I spent 2 1/2 years getting a degree in Michigan in East Lansing from 1978-1981, and spent the summer of 1980 on Isle Royale. I met the wolf team who took over from Dr. Mech, and learned much of the dynamics of the wolf population. It is an interesting and quite fascinating place to study wolf/moose interaction. As far as I am aware though, there never was a stocking of wolves - they came across on the ice from Canada which is a scant 16 mile jaunt. The population of both prey and predator has fluctuated quite a bit from I think a low of 7-800 moose to close to 1600, and wolves who averaged 18 for the first 20 years of the study, at one time reached close to 35 and had broken up to 5 distinct groups on the island. I haven't kept up for some time, but I am sure Rolf Peterson who was running the program back in 1980, and 25 years later is STILL running it is doing a good job. (I just searched google and found a recnt article about Rolf in a green bay newspaper.
If you do a search on google on Rolf Peterson, you will find lots of reading.

As far as stocking wolves in the UP. I was a member of the Mammalogy Group at Michigan State in graduate school, and was well aware of the DNR and the projects they were conducting. Many of the Graduate students in Mammalogy, and the Wildlfe Management Department worked with the DNR on a regular basis. There was indeed an experiment in stocking 4 wolves in the UP in the mid 70's. If I remember the article published on the radiotracking study - one was killed by a hunter, one was hit by a car, one migrated over 150 miles away, and the fourth must have had the collar become damaged and the where-abouts unknown. I find it very hard to believe Mech stocked the number of wolves mentioned in the other post. It is a suburban myth.

Now, you want to talk impact of predators - Coyotes are killing all the Roadrunner in Arizona - and they are using anvils and dynamite...


This response submitted by cur on 1/21/05 at 11:34 PM. ( )

According to the narrative history of Isle Royale, There were wolf tracks recorded on the Island on several occassions from 1913-1930 by various observers. Photographs with measuring devices were taken and are available on the web, along with the old data. There is a wide amount of speculation about when the first indigenous wolves reached the island, some feel that it was after 1940. A stocking took place on August 19th 1952. The first wolves stocked were sourced from the Detroit Zoo and were habituated to humans. According to records, they were kept in open pens and allowed to roam free in hopes of establishing a breeding population.

The first wolf pack census I could locate was done in 1956 and a count of 14 wolves was recorded at that time. The moose herd peaked at over 3000 animals in the early 1930's and were drastically reduced by a fire in 1936. Part of the data at one of the links I listed is a running winter inventory report of wolf and moose populations on Isle Royale. I have been aware of the study and have referenced it often and kept abreast of those studies since the late 1960's, myself, so I am not treading on new turf. I know full well that the standing policy has been to not introduce additional wolves on the island, even at times when numbers dropped to critical lows.

The genetic pool of Isle Royale wolves is narrow at present, but I think the researchers are in a "wait and see" mode at present. The second link I listed dealt with the species status and current legislation and considerations regarding the wolf in the Great Lakes States. The reason I posted that was to try to kill some of the WAGs and utter nonsense statements presented herein. Thanks for your input.

I was invited to work and stay the summer on Isle Royal

This response submitted by Cecil on 1/22/05 at 12:41 PM. ( )

by a really cute open mineded girl back when I attended college in Alpena. Unfortunately I had a position as a biologist aide in Indiana that summer. Ah shucks!


This response submitted by Jay on 1/22/05 at 6:54 PM. ( )

I don't believe anything the DNR and your wolf people say. I worked out of the Baraga office when I did summer work for the DNR and got to be friends with some of the guys. One of the wardens told me about the wolves being put on the island in the late 80's. My brother in-law fish's out there about 5 to 6 times a year and I talked to him today,and he advised that he talked to people that worked out on the island many times about the new pack put out on the island. 2 years ago there where no wolves in the U.P then by chance over 400 shouled up.

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