Opinion: Wolves play key role on Isle Royale – John A. Vucetich

In 2019, the U.S. The National Park Service began to restore wolf population to Isle Royale National Park. Some think the decision is relevant far beyond the remote island park and its denizens and has implications for what could be a new development in our relationship with nature.

The decision is noteworthy because it could seem in opposition to a century-old philosophy for letting nature take its course in protected areas like Isle Royale. Because Isle Royale is small and isolated, the wolf population has always, and quite naturally, been small and isolated. Nature’s course drives such populations to extinction.

Reasoning of that ilk benefits from a better account of the circumstances.

Here’s the best scientific understanding in a nutshell:

For decades wolves slipped past the adverse effects of inbreeding by occasionally receiving an infusion of fresh genes when, perhaps once a decade or so, a wolf would come to Isle Royale by crossing an ice bridge. With each passing decade, ice bridges have become less frequent, and the flow of new genes diminished. The wolves became inbred, and the population failed. The root cause had been human-caused climate warming which led to the loss of ice bridges.
via Opinion: Wolves play key role on Isle Royale

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