Wolf Populations Double in the Northern Rockies, Alaska, and the Midwest Reports the International Wolf Center

May 7, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS, May 7 /PRNewswire/ — Just when wolves have been removed from the federal endangered species list, the entire wolf population in the western Great Lakes states, and the northern Rockies has suddenly doubled. Similarly in Alaska, where coincidentally wolf control has just wound down, wolf numbers have also doubled. Rarely recognized, but as certain as spring, this doubling of wolf numbers has occurred in ground burrows, rock caves, abandoned beaver lodges, and various other secluded spots where each pack’s breeding female gives birth to a new generation of offspring. This news may be reassuring to individuals and organizations worried about the survival of wolf populations.

Wolves typically live in packs averaging six adults. Spring litters in these packs average six pups, thereby doubling the population. For example, the Great Lakes states’ overwinter population was about 4,000 animals, but after about May 1 those states can claim 8,000 wolves. Likewise, Montana estimated about 500 resident wolves during this past winter. Today the actual number is near 1,000. Traditionally, state and federal population estimates have been calculated when wolf numbers are at their annual low point, normally in winter. Although all wildlife populations experience these annual fluctuations, the more meaningful number is the rate at which a population is increasing or decreasing.

What happens to all these recently born wolf pups? Studies from Alaska to the Great Lakes states tell us that some pups die from disease, predation, accidents, and even starvation. In spite of high pup mortality and the fact that many states’ population estimates do not account for dispersing juvenile animals, the yearly trend for wolves across North America has been to increase, and that annual increase has usually been at the rate of 4 percent to 30 percent. As you read this, in hundreds of hidden seclusions, a new generation of wolves is being born, and many of them are destined to live long enough to add to this growing population.

Wolves have needed sound science and public policy to recover to this point where their own reproductive rate can offset natural and human-caused losses. That recovery has been a landmark conservation achievement. The wolf’s future, however, will rely on sound management and the preservation of vast areas of wildlands and the prey that thrive there.

SOURCE International Wolf Center

Source: newswire

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