US Fish and Wildlife recently removed the western Great Lakes gray wolf from the endangered species list. Two scientists, however, have discovered that things are not what they seem.
Amid much fanfare this year, the federal Fish and Wildlife Service declared the western Great Lakes gray wolf successfully recovered from an encounter with extinction and officially removed it from the endangered species list. Under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, the wolf boomed in population to 4,000 in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin today, up from just several hundred in northern Minnesota in 1974.
But the victory celebration was premature, according to two evolutionary biologists, Jennifer A. Leonard of Uppsala University in Sweden and Robert K. Wayne of the University of California, Los Angeles. The historic Great Lakes wolf did not return intact from the edge of oblivion. Instead, the scientists report in the online edition of the journal Biology Letters, it hybridized with gray wolves moving in from Canada, coyotes from the south and west and the hybrids born of that mixing.
Photo by Dobak