Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park, a remote island in Lake Superior that measure 44 miles long and 8 miles wide, is 99% federally designated wilderness. The only permanent inhabitants are wildlife, including moose and wolves.
Humans come by boat or plane to hike the scenic trails or fish, but no one stays year-round. The woods are home to dozens of moose and wolves who have been residents on the island since the 1940’s.
Michigan Technological University’s research department has been observing the large mammal and apex predator for over 50 years in the longest prey-predator study in the world. While flying over the recently frozen Lake Superior, they witnessed a miraculous display of survival by a lone wolf.
“On 28 January, with subzero (F) temperatures, we watched as a wolf traveling by itself (tracking another single) fell through the ice,” shared the researchers on Facebook.
Prior to its fall, the wolf stopped in a different area to make a hole in the ice (which was about a half inch thick) to take a drink. The predator proceeded along the frozen lake but fell through a weak spot in the ice.
With cameras in hand, researchers captured the tracks that show where the wolf plunged in the lake, but also how it managed to climb out.
Researchers wrote, “It pulled itself out by its claws on its front feet, then had to warm up and try to dry out…”
The wolf was then seen running along the shore and in tight circles to raise its body temperature. A few times it stopped to roll in the snow to get rid of some of the moisture on its fur.
“The ruffled fur indicates the wolf was well-submerged except for its head and back,” stated the team.
Eventually, the wolf took a rest in the sun to clean the ice out of its fur before moving on. The amazing feat was shared on Facebook and has left viewers in awe of the intelligent and resourceful wolf.
One person commented, “He naturally knew to raise his core temperature by running. The knowledge of the wild creatures is Amazing!”
Another said, “That is a lucky wolf. That story could easily have ended differently.”
Yet another wrote, “Wild animals are amazing and their various survival tactics are incredible. Evolution on camera! Thank you!”
Be sure to follow Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale on Facebook for more insights on the animals who call Isle Royale home.
Isle Royale is one of the least-visited national parks with an average of 20,000 visitors a year. Learn more about the park and how to plan a visit here.