TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - The gray wolves in Isle Royale National Park in northern Michigan are increasingly threatened, scientists said Monday, with no pups spotted during the past year and concern growing that the animals may have stopped reproducing.
The wolves have long been a symbol of the wilderness character of the island chain, one of the least-visited national parks because of its remote location in western Lake Superior.
Only eight remain, down from 24 just five years ago, according to a summary of a Michigan Technological University study obtained Monday by The Associated Press before the full report's public release. There were nine wolves last year, and scientists said the entire population could die out soon if the animals don't reproduce. Wolves usually live only four to five years.
This Jan. 24, 2013 photo provided by John Vucetich shows an aerial of three wolves and a moose carcass on Isle Royale National Park in Michigan. Scientists said Monday, March 25, 2013 the park's gray wolves are at their lowest number in more than 50 years and may have stopped reproducing. Researchers say the wolves helped keep the moose population, which has risen in recent years, in check. (AP Photo/Courtesy Michigan Technological University, John Vucetich)
This January 2013 photo provided by Rolf Peterson shows a female moose and her 9-month-old twin calves on Isle Royale in Michigan. The park’s moose population was estimated at 975 this year and is growing because of improving forage supplies and a drop in the number of wolves that prey on moose. (AP Photo/Courtesy Michigan Technological University, Rolf Peterson)
The report comes as the gray wolf population elsewhere in the Great Lakes region has recovered enough for the animals to be taken off the federal endangered list and hunting allowed. Hunters and trappers in Minnesota and Wisconsin killed 530 wolves combined last winter, and Michigan could allow a hunt this fall.
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