Gray wolf trapped on island found to have travelled from UP to Manitoulin

This beautiful gray wolf, snared legally by a trapper on Manitoulin Island recently, originated from Michigan and made a long trip getting to the Island over the past two years.

MICHIGAN—A gray wolf snared legally by a trapper on Manitoulin Island recently originated from the state of Michigan, and had travelled between both countries over the past two years.

The Recorder first heard about this amazing wolf story at a meeting in January.

Iain McGale, a conservation officer with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) explained, “about two weeks ago, a trapper from the Manitowaning area snared a gray wolf that had been tagged; it was from the state of Michigan and had been originally captured in 2017. A radio and GPS collar was placed on the animal and it is interesting to see where the animal travelled over the two years until it was snared here on the Island.”

The female gray wolf crossed from the state of Michigan to Drummond Island (and eventually back), then over to Cockburn Island, travelled to Spanish River, past Thessalon and St. Joseph’s Island, along Highway 17 to Nairn and then to Killarney Park. Then to Manitoulin Island and back and forth before it was finally captured. 

The Recorder did garner more information on the animal, from Dean Beyer Jr. Ph.D., wildlife research biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). He explained, “we (Michigan DNR) do our own research on wolves. This was an animal that was originally caught in the Upper Peninsula area of Michigan. It was outfitted with a GPS and radio collars so we could follow the animal.”

“When we saw the animal heading to Ontario I contacted Brent Patterson (noting Mr. Patterson is with the MNRF as a research biologist and wolves/coyotes scientist),” said Mr. Beyer. “We maintain a sample of marked wolves in the Upper Peninsula to find out where they are and what they are up to.” He acknowledged the animal had been snared in Manitowaning recently. 

Mr. Beyer provided further information on the animal, that it was a female wolf that had originally been captured on June 4, 2017 in Chippewa County, Michigan. The animal weighed 32 kilograms at the time of its capture.

The animal had showed up on Drummond Island, Michigan on March 7, 2018, and crossed the ice from Drummond into Canada on March 15, 2018. It was first confirmed to be on Manitoulin Island on March 25, 2018, and was snared legally by a Manitowaning trapper in January 2019.

Trapper Mike Phillips of Manitowaning told the Recorder, “I had a photo of the wolf on my trail camera on December 5(2018); some people who saw it thought it was a dog, which is understandable because it is hard to tell in a black and white photograph.”
“But what got me was the collar attached around its neck,” said Mr. Phillips. He explained, “I have a lot of predators travel on my property and on January 5 I snared this wolf. I followed the tracks to fresh trail and found this wolf caught in a snare and it had a collar on it (with both GPS and radio on it). So I thought I had better call George (Hagen), another local trapper.” At first Mr. Phillips said he thought it may be a wolf from southern Ontario.  “But then I found out this female wolf had been tagged in Charlevoix, Michigan, and headed this way. She travelled a long, long way.” 

He noted this wolf travelled from Michigan and visited on her travels Drummond Island, Cockburn Island, Blind River, down Highway 17, then not quite to Espanola—at the bottom of McGregor Bay and crossed Baie Fine, and then travelled to Fraser Bay, Heywood Island and into the Manitowaning area. “We know she was on LaCloche twice and on the east side of Manitowaning and Wiikwemkoong as well,” said Mr. Phillips. “This wolf travelled thousands of miles,” he said, noting that in its travels the animal had actually gained weight, weighing 78 pounds when it was snared as compared to 71 pounds when it started out on its venture two years ago.