New study of Isle Royale dam and dam underway
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There are too many moose on Isle Royale, an isolated island located 55 miles from Michigan's Upper Peninsula on Lake Superior. Once home to a herd of healthy wolves that helped keep the moose population under control, the decline in wolf packs has caused an imbalance in the ecosystem that allows moose to bloom and decimate vegetation. If an adult moose eats up to 60 pounds of plants per day, imagine what might happen to the ecology of Isle Royale, and to the population of elk in general, if this is not controlled.
Last winter's survey counted 2,060 moose on the island and data from Michigan Technological University (MTU) found that "the moose population has been growing by 19% per year" because its natural predators (wolves) were very scarce in the last eight years. Recently, the state imported several wolves from Minnesota with the intention of rebalancing the predator-prey relationship. However, according to Science, the 13 new wolves with radio collar are "largely bypbading the territory of the two remaining wolves of the original population." 20 female moose have also been subject to the study.
So far, the findings of the predator-prey study have revealed "things we've never seen before," said MTU wildlife ecologist Rolf Peterson. Researchers have learned where elk go to feed on the new growth of spring and where wolves tend to "cluster", which "are supposed to be moose deaths, which will help researchers collect moose bones" and , according to Peterson, "will totally redirect our attention."
Meanwhile, the researchers say that the two remaining wolves that were genetically linked are still maintained. Although they are not reproducing anymore, the consanguineous couple are busy marking their territory and have discovered the ice bridge, making their way towards it and backwards. Unfortunately, it is badumed that newly relocated wolves will also be eventually consecrated as "[i]Breeding is basically inevitable because of the small size of the island, "said geneticist Jacqueline Robinson, but according to Science, the National Park Service hopes to avoid this by bringing more wolves to the island" to further diversify the population. "