Isle Royale Wolf Study

The results of the wolf-moose study from Isle Royale Winter Study about the respective populations:

I’d like to know if any people are trying to create controversy from this study. Where the wolves brought in to control the moose? If so do folks now plan on trying to control wolf populations?

The wolves were introduced by nature a long time ago. I’ve read that they crossed the ice. Now that would have been a sight. The wolf/moose relationship has been there for many, many, many years.

As mark said the wolves made their way to the island when Lake Superior froze over in 1948.

4 zoo wolves were brought out to the island but quickly perished.

The moose had swam across in the early part of the 1900’s. The wolves were a welcome addition to the island as the moose were literaly eating themselves out of house and home.

There was a time in the the early 80’s when the wolf population crashed due partly to a Canineparvovirus. There was also the problem of inbreading due to a lack of a large gene pool that would be expected in a natural area.

Since the island was a natural barrier to the natural introduction of new blood, it was thought that the wolves would die out after about 20 years.

Now it is thought that it will take up to 100 years for this to occur, which hopefully will be avoided if the lake freezes over again and once again a few wolves cross the ice.

If you are interested in the Wolves of Isle Royale, Rolf Peterson, the biologist in charge of the study, wrote a good book, called The Wolves of Isle Royale. It is a good read about the moose-wolf relationship.

I’ve heard about this situation off and on for the last 25 years or so, but haven’t read or thought about it much lately. Thanks for the notice. It’s interesting to find out how things have been going. It’s amazing what a complex thing the study of poplulation dynamics can be, even in a situation like this which is about as “simple” an example as one could find in nature.

Swimming Moose
If the moose swam there why haven’t they migrated back and forth? Seems they would when conditions were getting bad. If nothing else you’d think they’d want to escape the wolves. I’ll keep my eye open for that book.

I used the live just a few miles from the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness where the Canadian wolves were released. The crap I’ve heard about wolves is mind boggling. Some people think kids waiting for the school bus will become prey. Personally I’ve seen about a dozen of them while in the back country, with my packgoats, without any problems. Goats got a little nervous a time or to. Had the pleasure of listening to them howl, from three directions, one evening. I’ve tried howling myself but only managed to piss off some coyotes.

Pack Goats??
Please tell me more about pack goats.

I have heard of llamas, but not pack goats.

I just picked up a Guide Book for the Frank Church area.

Rick Bass wrote a pretty good book about the re-introduction of wolves in MT, the Nine Mile Wolves.

Sounds like they ran into similar situations as in Idaho.

There’s so much to tell about goats. They were first domesticated about 10,000 years ago. When glaciers drove them out of the mountains. Desert breeds like Nubians and Boars don’t pack well. Pound for pound they carry more than llamas, horses or mules. Goats don’t need to be led or tied up at night. I’ve packed everything from elk to my chainsaw with them. Had to make my own saddles and packs when I started. People make them for sale now. I had rather big goats that could pack up to 50lbs while climbing 2,000’. The most I ever had them do is 16 miles in one day going up and then down 2,000’ starting at 6,400’.

The “Frank” and Selway, combined, make over 3 million acres of wilderness. I’ve hiked, hunted, fished, maintained trails and fought fires there. My personal favorite is going in from Big Horn Crags Campground and heading to Ship Island Lake. There’s excellent fishing in that area.

I read about the Nine Mile pack in the local papers. My understanding was that they weren’t introduced. The Lemhi Mountains near Salmon have some wolves up Patterson and Big Creek drainages. Not enough to form packs though. One winter a big one passed by my camp. Didn’t see it but heard it yelp. Very very loud. We found the prints in the snow the next mourning. I had my camera with me and a ruler. Photographed them with my ski pole lying along side. They measured 56" front to back with 7" rear paws and 5" front. Turned the info and photograph into the Forest Service office. They listed it as a highly probable siting.

Got asked to write a hiking guide to the Frank once. Doesn’t pay well enough unless you’re a school teacher who can afford the time. The authour only sees about $8,000 annually at best.

If moose could think like humans,…
… I’m sure that they would analyze their situation, figure out that they live on an island, and then take a chance that there might be fewer wolves on the mainland, but most animals don’t generally “think” in such complex ways the way we do. Also, I would imagine that living on a land mass that is so much larger than what they need for a home range (big enough, in fact, to support THREE distinct wolf packs!!), hardly seems like a prison to them. On the “thinking” subject again, I wonder if the average moose really ever puts two and two together to figure out that their home is surrounded by water when there’s so much land area to roam over in between those occasional sightings of the island’s shoreline. Finally, for a moose to even realize that another landmass is nearby, he’d probably have to be on the proper side of the island during a favorable wind (to catch the scent), and the weather would need to be favorable if he were to consider making the trip. Anyway, it seems clear enough from what those who have studied this situation have written that the 20-mile moose swim is something that happens only rarely, and all I did here was provide some logical reasons why that might be so. I’m sure the mainland is more than 200 feet high, meaning that on a clear day it would be visible from beach level across that 20-mile gap, but it would still quite a long swim, even for a moose.

i saw a bunch of goats
on Inishmore Islands in Ireland chained together at the neck. Why would someone do that?

To keep them together, to stop them from jumping over walls?

Interesting Point
What would possess a moose (actually a few) to swim actually only 12-14 miles from Canada?

Good question!!

I could see the wolves crossing over the ice.

Then Why
Then why did they swim there in the first place? Maybe they didn’t swim. That was my point. I couldn’t figure out why they would go there to start with.

Moose Swimming
I will try and find out any info I can about the moose swimming and why.

This is just one of those random…
… occurances. The world is full of examples of animals populating new areas as a result of extrordinary trips, against reasonable odds, across natural barriers. Such crossings occur only in very rare cases, but it can be all that’s needed to start a new population somewhere. From what’s been pointed out so far, it looks like Isle Royale had no moose at all for a very, very long time. That wouldn’t be the case if the moose were making this trip on a regular basis or if it was easy for them to do. Moose have been observed swimming very far out from shore on Lake Superior lots of times, but most of those animals don’t end up coming ashore in a place where there are no moose already, and some of them probably get lost and die out there, since in most cases there is no offshore destination in the area that they might accidentally run into. The fact that moose eventually swam to Isle Royale is no indication that it should be a common occurance.

A perfect example of this principle is the fact that there are no pocket gophers east of the Wisconsin River. In that respect, this situation is similar to the total absence of moose on Isle Royale for so many years before the first ones swam across. Someday, perhaps a few pocket gophers or a pregnant female will make the trip across the Wisconsin River by accident, perhaps hitching a ride on flood debris (a common way for animals to accidentaly migrate to new regions). Even if this resulted in the start of a new population, that would provide no reason to expect that some of them might someday cross in the other direction. A random arrival of animals in a new and isolated location is just that - random. It’s occurance provides no evidence that the trip was easy or that it should occur on a regular basis. I’m rather surprised this sort of thing needs explaining, but there it is.

Swimming Moose
I did a little checking.

Moosw hate ice. They would not walk across it to get to the island. On the other hand they are able to be in the cold water without it bothering them. When they went to the island, it was in the early 1900’s and the North Shore was recovering from heavy logging. There was large open areas where aspen and birch had started to grow-which moose don’t like. Because of the open areas, there was growth for them to feed on and large population for the area, so perhaps they were pushed out.

Also winter ticks also live on Caribou which had existed on the island for years longs before the island was “settled”.