To read the full story visit: https://magazine.esf.edu/world-is-research-lab/
Dr. Jerry Belant, the Camp Fire Conservation Fund Professor at ESF, recently helped staff members from the National Park Service (NPS) locate the body of a wolf at Isle Royale National Park in Michigan, just a few weeks after it had been translocated to the park from Canada as part of an effort to bolster the area’s declining wolf population.
In March, NPS personnel discovered the wolf’s GPS collar was transmitting a mortality mode signal. The wolf, known to the scientists as W006M, was a black-coated male that had been released to the park in late February. NPS personnel, unable to access the island, had to wait until the park reopened for the 2019 season to investigate. The wolf was located in the middle of Siskiwit swamp, a large wetland complex at the southwest end of the island. Following coordinates from the GPS collar, Belant and NPS personnel traveled five miles into the swamp to recover the carcass and determine the cause of death. The GPS collar had quit transmitting two weeks earlier. Investigators found no apparent signs of injury or struggle; however, the carcass had deteriorated because of melting snow and wet conditions, making an accurate cause of death determination impossible.
Annual survival of wild wolves in the nearby Upper Peninsula of Michigan is approximately 75 percent.
“After translocation of 11 wolves this winter, it was a disappointment to learn of this mortality and even more frustrating that the carcass could not be accessed in a timely way for a detailed necropsy,” said Mark Romanski, division chief of natural resources for the park. “A few weeks prior this male was traveling with one of the females translocated from Minnesota in October 2018. It would have been nice to see them stay together.”
The new wolves are beginning to form loose associations with one another as seen by overlapping GPS coordinates at the same time and place. A female wolf, known as W001F, that translocated from Minnesota in September 2018 and two male wolves, identified as W007M and W013M, that moved from Michipicoten Island, Ontario, Canada, this winter have been traveling together since early April. “While GPS data indicate these three wolves have been together on numerous occasions, it’s too early to tell whether we have a makings of a wolf pack,” said Romanski, “but it is reassuring that we have wolves spending time together and feeding.”
The NPS along with partners from ESF have initiated a study to look at summer predation and are using GPS locations to determine “clusters,” a group of consecutive GPS locations within 50 meters (55 yards) of one another, for investigation as to whether wolves have made a kill, are scavenging or perhaps just resting. This data will help managers and scientists determine the impact of the wolf population on the island’s moose population and document predation of other species such as beaver and, less often, snowshoe hare.
Akin to finding a needle in a haystack, field technicians searching two clusters each an area of nearly 0.8 hectares (two acres) discovered two probable snowshoe hare predation sites this past week; often all that remains at these sites are the feet, which wolves typically do not consume.
“We will continue to monitor the movements of wolves year round and use social network models to help determine the timing of pack formation and other aspects of wolf organization and predation on the island,” Belant said.
This story was adapted from a press release from Isle Royale National Park.
See SUNY – ESF press release at https://www.esf.edu/communications/view2.asp?newsID=8497&fbclid=IwAR3sgWhabR1ugMLx0JyBao4s2Akcfac3s4ssn1b389rhVCKEwp0I6OZHQLY
Please join us at the ESF Gateway Center on April 3rd for an exciting presentation on – Pride of the Serengeti: Assessing the past, planning the future of lion conservation in Africa.
Africa’s lions have lost more than 80 percent of their historic range, and their population has declined in recent years by more than 40 percent. Strategies for conserving lions often seem straightforward, but the reality is complex. Dr. Jerry Belant, the inaugural Camp Fire Conservation Fund professor at ESF, will explore past efforts and future needs in lion conservation, drawing from his recent experiences in the Serengeti ecosystem.
Parking & Lecture are FREE to attend.
In collaboration with Isle Royale National Park, the Camp Fire Program in Wildlife Conservation (www.campfirewildlife.com) at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) is seeking an outstanding post-doctoral scholar/research scientist beginning April 2019.
Isle Royale National Park, a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve and wilderness area, is also world renowned for its wolves. The population of wolves on Isle Royale had declined to two animals, prompting the National Park Service to recently launch a wolf introduction program. This ongoing phased introduction of wolves provides an unparalleled opportunity to explore the effects of introducing an apex predator on ecosystem processes including predator-prey interactions and trophic relationships. The scientist’s primary duties will include: 1) characterizing the current wolf introduction program on Isle Royale and factors influencing its success and 2) participate in development of an overarching experimental design/study to document ecosystem-level responses to introduced wolves. The scientist is expected to spend considerable time on the island to oversee data collection and to summarize this and other data for required reporting and peer-reviewed publications. Though the academic home for this position is at SUNY ESF in Syracuse, New York, the incumbent will be stationed in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, on Isle Royale National Park and in Houghton. This multi-year position is renewable annually, based on satisfactory job performance and funding availability.
To learn more about this position or to learn how to apply visit the Opportunities page on the Camp Fire Program website.
Dr. Jerrold Belant will join the ESF faculty as the College’s first Camp Fire Professor of Wildlife Conservation. The professorship is an endowed position created in partnership with the Camp Fire Conservation Fund, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the ESF Roosevelt Wild Life Station.
Belant’s expertise lies in the ecology, conservation and management of the world’s large mammals. He has studied brown bear, black bear, deer, elk, moose, wolf and coyote across North America and, more recently, lions in Tanzania. Although large mammals and predator-prey dynamics are his passion, his expertise extends to upland game birds and mesocarnivores (animals whose diet mainly consists of meat with the balance made up of fungi, and fruits and other plant material) in North America, Central America, South America, Borneo and Nepal. He is versed in issues such as mitigating wildlife airstrike hazards and the habitat value of biofuel production. Belant has taught courses in the ecology and management of human-wildlife conflicts, carnivore ecology and conservation, ecological theory in natural resource management, wildlife ecology in Serengeti and mammalogy.
Belant has served in editorial roles for several peer-reviewed journals, as a member of the Council for the International Association of Bear Research and Management, and as chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission’s Small Carnivore Specialist Group. He has earned numerous awards recognizing his research, publications and service, mentored more than 30 graduate students and post-doctoral scholars, and published three books and more than 250 journal articles and book chapters.
Belant received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and his Ph.D. from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Most recently, Belant was the Dale H. Arner Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Management in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture at Mississippi State University, where he worked as a professor since 2008. Previously, he worked as a professional biologist with the National Park Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Fond du Lac Natural Resources Department.