A handful of newborns in a national park isn't always welcomed with a news release, but when the young are peregrine falcon chicks and wolf pups at Isle Royale National Park, the news is definitely something to note.
That's because peregrine falcons are considered an endangered species by the state of Michigan, and wolves at the national park that claims an island in Lake Superior are feared to be dying out.
Isle Royale’s biodiversity is generally lower because the islands’ isolation has restricted migration of organisms from outside populations. For example, there are approximately 19 species of mammals documented on Isle Royale, far fewer than the number of mammals on the adjacent Michigan and Minnesota mainland.
Last year marked the first time in 57 years that peregrine falcons nested and successfully fledged young on the island, according to park officials. This year that success was repeated with two chicks reared to fledging on Passage Island.
“Last year was quite a shock to find a breeding pair of falcons. This year we hoped the pair would return and we were very happy to see nesting activity”, said Chief of Natural Resources Paul Brown.
Initially there were three chicks in the nest, but over the course of a few weeks one chick disappeared. The two remaining chicks were successfully reared. With the addition of these two new birds, the island population of peregrine falcons is currently thought to be 5-7 individuals.
Also noteworthy this summer was the birth of at least two wolf pups. For the past several years the wolf population has been slowly declining, to a historic low of eight animals at the end of winter study in March.
These pups are welcome additions to the population, bringing the total up to at least ten animals.
“It is always exciting when we learns about successful reproduction of wildlife in the park, and the birth of two wolf pups is especially good news," said Superintendent Phyllis Green. “The wolves continue to surprise us with their resiliency. While we were very happy to learn about the birth of the pups, we are still concerned about the population and are in the process of evaluating options on how to deal with the population in the future.”