Founder's Blog

Dr. Hackett Supports Isle Royale Wolf Genetic Additions/Rescue

November 21, 2013 - Maureen Hackett, MD

The following was sent today via email: 

Dear Isle Royale National Park Service Leadership and Personnel:

Thank you for coming to St. Paul, MN on November 19, 2013 and for discussing the situation of the ongoing study of the wolves on Isle Royale.  I learned a great deal from attending your presentation.

Thank you to Superintendent Phyllis Green, Paul Brown and Mark Romanski for speaking with me after the talk.  In our discussion, Superintendent Green and I spoke about the need for more understanding and study of the social nature and lives of wild wolves.  Since Isle Royale is free from human-caused wolf mortality, it does offer a unique opportunity to observe wolf interactions free from the perturbations caused by humans killing wolves. While Isle Royale is a geography with limitations of space, it does offer a study opportunity to observe wolves free from human caused mortality. Understanding the dynamics and stress on wolves under these space limitations, but free of human caused mortality is a unique but necessary study opportunity. The best way to continue this work uninterrupted, would be best done by adding new genetically unrelated wolves to the current population.  This addition of individual wolves will give information that will not be possible if the study were to allow the wolves to die off and then to simply re-introduce wolves at a later time.

If the current wolf population is allowed to die off (the time frame unclear) with the idea of introducing a new group at a later time, then the data that can be used on the wolves currently present will be less useful. Information about the current wolves will inform research that will be continued with the addition of more individuals now, rather than interrupt the social system that is already in place with the current wolves.  Given the pressures on wolves all over the world from human killing, it is my opinion that the wolf population in its current form on Isle Royale will provide more information about the social lives of wolves with the addition of new wolves rather than allow this population to die off and simply replace them.  It seems that wolf populations all over the world are being perturbed in ways that makes understanding their social lives nearly impossible. The current Isle Royale wolves can allow for more information about their social interactions free from human caused mortality and this will inform our wolf policies in other places.  I am in support of the addition of new genetics to the Isle Royale wolves as soon as possible.

Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to voice my opinion.  


Maureen Hackett, MD
Founder and President
Howling For Wolves


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