Researchers document summer predation in Isle Royale Wolf Project

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Isle Royale

Wolf project technicians Megan Petersohn (left) and Cara Ratterman (right) sample wolf scat detected at wolf GPS cluster site, spring 2019, on Isle Royale. (photo courtesy of Tyler Petroelje, SUNY-ESF)

HOUGHTON, Mich. (WJMN)- The National Park Service (NPS) and the State University of New York – College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) have concluded their collaboration project that monitored summer predation by wolves introduced to the Isle Royale ecosystem from fall 2018 and winter (February, March) 2019.

This is the first time wolf predation has been monitored on Isle Royale during snow-free periods.

GPS data was utilized from collars on the wolves to help identify “clusters” of locations that signified areas where wolves spent extended periods of time.

Field crews visited 381 of these sites between May and October to determine wolf behavior associated with site use. Researchers found that the new wolves adapted well to the island environment and located the remains of 60 prey. More than half of the prey remains were moose. This demonstrates that introduced wolves had few problems adjusting to this large of prey. Predation monitoring also revealed the importance of beaver and snowshoe hare in the diets of wolves.

“Combining recent advances in technology with our knowledge of predator-prey relations will provide new insights, not only in the year-round foraging ecology of wolves on Isle Royale but their overall role in this island ecosystem,” said Dr. Jerry Belant, Professor at SUNY-ESF and collaborative partner on wolf research.

The NPS and researchers from Michigan Technological University (MTU) and SUNY-ESF will continue to document wolf predation each winter and summer to monitor the restoration of wolf predation, its effects on Isle Royale’s moose population, and the health of the island community as a whole.

The NPS and its collaborators will continue to monitor the new wolves as they settle into the island environment and to document ecosystem changes.   

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