Why Did the Wolf Cross the Road?

SCIENCE

For the first time, a wolf has been tracked crossing an ice bridge into northern Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park. (Nat Geo News)

Use our family activity guide to learn more about gray wolves, or use the educator guide to get a grasp of these creatures for the classroom!

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit, including a link to today’s MapMaker Interactive.

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Discussion Ideas

  • How do scientists know a wolf crossed an ice bridge to a remote island?
    • Well, it was actually two wolves, but only one of them was wearing a radio collar. Scientists used radio signals emitted by her collar to follow her movements across an ice bridge from the Grand Portage Indian Reservation (home to the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa) to Isle Royale, a remote, forested island that’s home to an unrelated wolf pack. (She crossed state lines—the Grand Portage Indian Reservation is in Minnesota, while Isle Royale is in Michigan.)

 

  • Why did the wolf cross the ice bridge?
    • To get to the other side! (No, really.) According to Nat Geo News: “Wolves are constantly looking for new territories and mates, and can travel long distances, says Rolf Peterson, a wildlife ecologist at Michigan Technological University. ‘As soon as there’s ice anywhere, they’re on it,’ he says. ‘They like to move.'”

 

  • Is this the first time wolves have crossed the ice bridge between Minnesota and Michigan?

 

  • Why is the wolf crossing the ice bridge so important for the wolf population of Isle Royale?
    • The Isle Royale wolves have a sickly and dwindling population.According to Nat Geo News: “With few outside wolves breeding with the island population, and therefore little genetic diversity among the remaining wolves, all the animals have skeletal deformities, and their weakened state could be interfering with reproduction.” The introduction of healthy genetic material to the Isle Royale wolf population would improve the health of the pack—if, for instance the female wolf who crossed the ice bridge stuck around and mated with one of the Isle Royale wolves.

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Nat Geo: How Do Wolves Get to a Remote Island? Ice Solves Mystery

Nat Geo: Gray Wolf Family Activity Guide

Nat Geo: Gray Wolf Educator Guide

Nat Geo: Lake Superior’s ice bridge to Isle Royale map

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