The wolf crossed into 4 states and two Canadian provinces earlier than it was shot by a hunter final month. Adobe Inventory

Grey wolves are identified to roam. Males will typically depart behind their authentic packs and strike out on their very own, touring huge distances earlier than organising their territory elsewhere. Biologists have lengthy believed that these lone wolves serve an necessary function within the species’ survival by consistently increasing the vary and dispersing throughout the panorama to search out extra appropriate habitat.

Not all lone wolves are pioneers, nevertheless, and one carefully tracked wolf from Michigan’s Higher Peninsula has the state’s wildlife researchers questioning if some are merely born to roam. That wolf traveled greater than 4,000 miles over an 18-month interval. Its journey got here to an finish in December when it was legally killed by a hunter in Manitoba.

In accordance with the Michigan Division of Pure Assets, the wolf’s roughly 4,200-mile journey is the longest ever recorded by the company. The DNR has been monitoring wolves with GPS collars since 1992.

“The usage of GPS collars will definitely add extra perception to motion of those superb animals and sure present that others might make related actions over time” DNR biologist Brian Roell told MLive. “However I think it will stand as a document for a while for Michigan.”

A DNR map reveals that the wolf’s record-setting journey started on the Higher Peninsula in Michigan. It was trapped by researchers close to Lake Gogebic within the Ottawa Nationwide Forest and fitted with a GPS collar on June 21, 2021.

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A map displaying the circuitous, 4,200-mile route that the wolf took. Voyageurs Wolf Challenge / through Fb

The 92-pound male instantly traveled south into Wisconsin that summer season. It then trekked throughout the northern a part of the state earlier than getting into Minnesota south of Superior. From there, the wolf made a big figure-8 loop, briefly dipping into North Dakota earlier than trekking again throughout Minnesota and getting into the Canadian province of Ontario someplace in Voyageurs Nationwide Park.

After crossing the border, the wolf zigzagged to the north, touring by way of the forests of Quetico Provincial Park, and making it as far north as Wabakimi Provincial Park. The wolf then looped again by way of Quetico earlier than heading west throughout the province and into Manitoba’s Whiteshell Provincial Park, the place it was killed by a hunter on Dec. 6.

That hunter was on a guided journey with Whiteshell Outfitters on the time. Responding to the flurry of unfavourable feedback on its Facebook post, the clothes shop clarified that it was a authorized harvest, and that the hunter didn’t see the wolf’s collar till he recovered the animal.

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A hunter in Manitoba legally harvested the GPS-collared wolf in December. Whiteshell Outfitters / through Fb

The lone wolf’s 4,200-mile journey throughout 4 states and two Canadian provinces would possibly set a document for the Michigan DNR, however that doesn’t essentially make it an outlier. The company has tracked related actions by different grey wolves, and in 2019, another male wolf that was trapped and collared on the Higher Peninsula wandered greater than 2,000 miles earlier than it was hit by a automotive in Minnesota.

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As a result of each of their journeys had been reduce brief, researchers won’t ever know if these lone wolves would have finally stopped or circled again—or if they’d have continued to roam the Nice Lakes area indefinitely.

“It by no means actually settled down,” Roell instructed reporters, referring to the record-setting lone wolf that was killed in December. “Usually it looks like a few of these wolves are destined to remain loners.”  

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