Wolves and Bears: Returning to Britain


Health Editor’s Note: In Michigan, Isle Royale National Park, in Lake Superior, is home to wolves and moose. Ninety nine percent of this land is federally designated as a wilderness. There is a single predator-single prey relationship between wolves and moose which has been the subject of a study (1958) for over 50 years.  Human interaction is limited due to access to the  island is by boat, and there are no roads. With both populations establishing in the 1900s there have been lots of years to study these two and their population balance has peaked and ebbed. There was a point when there were only two wolves on the island.

The hope is to increase the wolf population. The park is closed September to May with the only humans on the island being the people involved in the study. The wolves have been subject to inbreeding and can carry a spinal deformity.  Wolves were introduced in December 2016 to improve the genetic balance and to increase the wolf count.   

While hiking on this island, several year ago, we were delighted to see a mother moose with her twins.  No wolves were spotted, but that might have been a good thing…..Carol

Wolves and Bears Are Being Returned to a Rare Patch of Ancient Woodland in Britain

by Brigit Katz Smithsonian.com

If asked to conjure an image of natural landscapes in Britain, verdant, low-lying pastures might come to mind. But in centuries past, the region was covered with dense woodlands—forests that have been all but lost due to human activities. Now, a conservation group is hoping to bring one of Britain’s ancient woods back to life with a wildlife exhibit that will allow visitors to view four animals—European brown bears, grey wolves, Eurasian lynxes and wolverines—in the natural environment where they once roamed.

As Steven Morris reports for the Guardian, the initiative is being spearheaded by the Wild Place Project, a conservation park in Bristol operated by the Bristol Zoological SocietyBear Wood, as the exhibit is called, will stretch across a rare patch of ancient woodland that sits on the park’s property— “ancient woodland” being the term used to describe forests that have existed in England since at least 1600 A.D. Largely undisturbed by human development, these forests offer rich habitats for threatened species, among them greater-spotted woodpeckers, tawny owls and hedgehogs. But today, ancient woods make up just two percent of the United Kingdom’s land area. They are also devoid of some of their most important predators.

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    • I live in the most rural county in England, but even here, I couldn’t see wolves and bears being introduced, it just wouldn’t work, you’d have to fence off the area, which would mean they were, in effect, captive in a large enclosure, a glorified version of Windsor Safari Park. You see, there just isn’t any wilderness, any unused land, the only wildlife for them to prey on are domesticated animals such as sheep and cows. The only wild prey larger than a rabbit are themselves protected species – badgers and some types of deer mostly. Even in the Scottish Highlands, almost all the land is farmed, roamed by sheep and hardy highland cattle. This is why there are almost no bears or wolves in western Europe either, the nearest wild populations of such predators are to be found far to the east in Ukraine and small parts of the bordering regions of Poland, the Baltic republics and Romania, which are some of the last places in the whole of Europe to contain any wilderness regions.

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