The Climate Warning Coming From Three Wolves on a Michigan Island

There are just three wolves remaining on Isle Royale, a Michigan island in Lake Superior, and that’s a problem for the ecosystem, as the moose population is surging and their grazing is threatening the island’s vegetation. But it’s also a sign of the climate change-related impacts the nation is set to face.

Researchers from Michigan Technological University gave the tally of the wolf numbers earlier this year, noting that it was a big drop from the nine they counted the previous year.

But the number has been on a steady decline. Michigan Tech professors John Vucetich and Rolf Peterson, who lead the study, write in their report (pdf):

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With such a small population, inbreeding is weakening the wolves that do remain. There are two adults and a pup now, and the researchers said that the pup appears unhealthy.

But why plummeting numbers on Isle Royale?