The longest standing predator study is falling apart and will likely need a new direction heading into 2016. In 1958 scientists started tracking the wolf population on an island in Lake Superior. The wolves on Isle Royale, a part of Michigan, were the mainstay of the study for all 58 years that have followed. Now though, the study looks like it will be coming to an end, as scientists point out that there is no options for “genetic rescue” remaining. The population of the pack is down to 3, when it originally started at numbers startlingly higher.
When that study first started, the numbers were at 50. In the last decade the population had shrunk by 30, and now, less than 10 wolves remain. This being the latest in a string of failures that the natural world has encountered as the climate continues to change. However, a fleeting number of males ultimately was the failure of the pack. The team points out that the final male to enter the pack was in 1997 and that afterward, inbreeding became a problem.
For the science community this is a major blow for a number of reasons. First, for the long-standing nature of the study itself. Scientists being forced to refocus, or find a new pack – isn’t something that can easily be found to replace them. At this point, some have even wondered if it would mean the end of the study and program altogether.
The focus though now, looks like it will become moose, and other species that inhabit the isle. In fact, it was just funded again – to the tune of $90,000 for the next 5-years. While that might seem impressive, it really won’t deliver to the extent that it would if the wolves were still being studied. However, this will lend more to the changes that are happening in the natural world. The lead on the study pointed out that, “We have science coming out our ears and it wasn’t enough to carry the day against an entrenched bureaucracy with a culture of non-intervention.” This is just the latest example of failure in our natural world, and it’s on the general public and policy makers to change the world.