Isle Royale Wolves
Update and Annual Report
This ecological report on the habitat of wolves and moose on Isle Royale delves into the health and well-being of both animals and their life on Isle Royale. Scientists have discovered that the health of teeth in these animals is as important as the health of teeth in humans. The project is ongoing but the 2020/2021 annual report is now available.
Isle Royale Wolf Report
Moose – Wolves 2020 2021
SUMMARY OF FIELD OPERATIONS:
The COVID-19 pandemic caused significant disruption of field operations over the past year. The summer field crew was limited to Rolf and Carolyn Peterson, Isabella Evavold, Eli Paulen, Rachel Christiansen, and Amelia Evavold. Field efforts did not begin until 30 June. Most of the crew focused on a five-week effort to assess rates at which moose browse balsam fir. They measured balsam fir at sites used by GPS-collared moose during the previous winter (34 sites at the east end of Isle Royale and 35 sites at the west end). That assessment is a key component of our long-term effort to understand moose foraging behavior and its relationship to the wolves and forest of Isle Royale.
The Petersons also surveyed tagged balsam fir trees and saplings near Windigo and spent three weeks circumnavigate-gating the island by canoe. The purpose of that trip was to discover and necropsy the remains of wolf-killed moose. They examined the remains of 29 moose, including two radio-collared moose that died in May and June. One is believed to have died from complications while giving birth. The other seems to have died from malnutrition after a stick got lodged in the animal’s upper palate. The Petersons remained on the island until 22 October. Pilot Don Murray of Up North Aerials flew surveys to down-load data from collared moose in early July and late August. That effort was aided by Jill Podominick Murray. Don Murray and Rolf Peterson conducted a complete aerial count of active beaver sites during 9-15 October.
The pandemic resulted in the complete cancellation of the summer 2020 Moose watch expeditions, which are a citizen-science program whose focus is the discovery and necropsying of wolf-killed moose. The pandemic also resulted in the complete cancellation of the 2021 winter study, which would have resulted in estimates of abundance for the wolf and moose populations, estimates of kill rate and predation rate, and the placement of GPS collars on moose. Never before in its 63-year history had the winter study been canceled. In the upcoming year, beginning in May 2021, we are pre-pared to make up as much of the lost field effort as possible, including fully operational teams of student interns, Moose watch, and winter study has been cancelled.
In the upcoming year, beginning in May 2021, we are pre-pared to make up as much of the lost field effort as possible, including fully operational teams of student interns, Moose watch, and winter study.