The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced that the population of wolves in the state remains stable, based on their latest survey. The agency said that there have been no notable changes in population trends observed in the last three winters.
The survey was performed during the mid-winter season, which is close to the low border of the wolves' population cycle every year. During the spring, pups are usually born, commonly doubling the population of wolves; however, most of these pups do not thrive until the next winter.
The results of the most recent survey show that the population of wolves and the number of wolf packs within the scope of the Minnesota state were estimated at 2,221 and 374 respectively. These numbers are comparably lower than last year's winter estimates of 2,423. Nonetheless, the department assured that statistically, this is not significant in terms of population size in a span of three years.
The numbers collated in the recent survey maintain compliance with the minimum management objective of Minnesota, which is 1,600 wolves. The recovery goal of the federal department, which is 1,251 to 1,400 was even exceeded. Wolf packs were also found to grow bigger now than in the past years, with a 4.4 to 5.1 wolves per pack rate increase.
"Results from the 2015 wolf survey demonstrate that the wolf population remains well established across northern and central Minnesota," said Dan Stark, large carnivore specialist from the DNR.
Not only are the number of wolves increasing but also the territories the animals are utilizing. Based on the same survey, the territory used by wolves has increased from 58 square miles in 2014 to 73 square miles last winter on the average.
The population of the Minnesota wolves is also said to be partly dependent on the population of the white-tailed deer, which is their main source of food. In cases when the number of prey decreases, the wolves adjust and it most commonly results in fewer packs that use larger territories to maintain physiological needs and preserve an aggressive size of pack, says John Erb, a wolf research scientist from the DNR.
In December 2014, the Minnesota wolves graced the federal list of endangered species once again due to a federal district court ruling from Washington D.C. With this, the DNR set a goal for wolf management, which is to guarantee the survival of wolves in the state for a long time, taking into consideration the management of possible wolf-human conflict.
Photo: John Magnus | Flickr