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A gray wolf in Minnesota. It is believed the predator first migrated to Isle Royale in the mid-20th century. Photo: David Tipling/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Scientists said Monday wolf pup sightings on Isle Royale are a hopeful sign that the effort to restore the predator species' population is making an impact in the U.S. national park, AP reports.

Why it matters: Wolves are an apex predator and key to healthy ecosystems. The Isle Royale population numbered between 12 and 14 during the last survey Michigan Tech researchers conducted in the winter of 2020.

Details: It's unclear how many gray wolves navigate the island chain, but remote cameras and additional clues suggest that at least two litters of pups were born in the area last year.

  • Scientists with Michigan Tech, the National Park Service and State University of New York are working to produce a population estimate.

The big picture: Wolves are believed to have migrated to Isle Royale from Minnesota or the Canadian province of Ontario in the 20th century. On the island, they keep the park's moose herd from outgrowing its food supply.

  • Scientists say the drastic decline in the wolves' population in the past decade is primarily due to inbreeding. The moose herd consequently boomed, leading to starvation and oftentimes death.
  • In 2018, the population dropped to two wolves, spurring efforts to repopulate. The National Park Service took 19 wolves from Minnesota, Ontario and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to the Isle Royale by airlift.
    • The park hopes to have 20–30 wolves in three to five years.

The bottom line: "A healthy park ecosystem includes a variety of wildlife and abundant food sources," Christine Goepfert, Midwest associate director for the National Parks Conservation Association, told AP.

  • "As wolves bounce back after nearly disappearing from the park, their presence as a predator on the island will help all wildlife and native plants thrive at Isle Royale."

Go deeper

Updated Sep 15, 2021 - Energy & Environment

California fires force Sequoia National Park personnel to evacuate

A person at the base of the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park in 2006. Photo: Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Two uncontained California wildfires are projected to spread toward Sequoia National Park, forcing around 75 park personnel to evacuate, AP reports.

Why it matters: Park officials said the fires have the potential to threaten a part of the park known as Giant Forest, which is home to more than 2,000 giant sequoias, including one that is considered the largest tree on Earth by volume.

32 mins ago - Technology

Facebook changes corporate name to Meta

Screen shot of CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company's "Connect" virtual event

CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said the social media giant is renaming its company Meta.

Why it matters: The effort is meant to shift its image from a social media platform to a “metaverse” company that focuses on building virtual work and social communities.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Filings show Sweetgreen isn't profitable, despite claims

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Restaurant chain Sweetgreen on Monday filed to go public, and revealed that it lost money in each year since 2014.

Why it matters: The company lied when it repeatedly told reporters it was profitable.