Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wolves in NY State: Are they here for the long haul?

Are wolves making a come-back after years of being unheard of in New York? A research team at the State Museum has uncovered some interesting findings that could signal the return of the species to the Adirondacks. The last wolf was shot in the Adirondacks in the 1890’s.
"People have always wondered could a wolf even make it from the Great Lakes or Canada into NY State" says Roland Kays, Curator of Mammals at the New York State Museum.
On the streets of Albany some care, while others don’t.
"It really doesn't mean anything to me" says Justin Dinkins.
"I think it would be awesome" says Jeanne Kelleher.
"There must be pluses and minuses but I don't know” adds Dan Kelleher.
Three wolves have migrated into NY State and Vermont in the last decade, then shot by coyote hunters. Researchers were excited to see wolves back in the Empire State but had one problem: with each reported case they couldn't tell if the wolf was a wild animal or an escaped pet.
For one year they tested bone and hair samples from eight different wolves and discovered you are what you eat.
"We can see if the animal was in captivity and eating dog food or livestock or has a history of being in the wild eating deer and rabbits and mice" says Kays.
That's how they confirmed that wild wolves made their way from the Great Lakes and Ontario from existing wolf populations into NY State looking for a mate.
"They've been pretty much extinct in the state so it would be great to see them return to wildlife especially in the Adirondacks" adds Kelleher.
It would be years down the line if we do end up seeing a full return.
"We don't see any sign that there's a breeding population" says Kays.
Of course that could all change if the species continues to migrate as they search for mates locally.