Reads Wilderness Wildlife

Revealing Something Mythical – Wolf Island

There is not much better in life than reading a good book about a place and a subject that while real, feels mythical.  One such place is Isle Royale.  Isle Royale is an island located in lake Superior in Lake Michigan.  I have dreamed of visiting Isle Royale since learning about as a little child.

The good book is called Wolf Island by L. David Mech with Greg Breining.  It is the story behind the longest running field study of an animal in history.  The story reveals all about the Wolves who inhabit Isle Royale.  Wolves have long mysterious and mythical history with humankind.  Wolf Island provides insights, amplification, and corrections to how wolves operate in the wild.  Mech and Breining supply storylines that are fantastical and scientifically enlightening.

The Island is Real Yet Feels Mythical

Isle Royale is itself a mysterious and exceptionally isolated place.  It is located on the largest body of freshwater (by surface area) in the world. The island is 45 miles long and 9 miles wide. Isle Royale is actually part of an archipelago with another 450 island surrounding the main island.

In addition to being isolated, the island is mountainous and rugged.  Only 19 mammals survive on the island.  82 species of birds live on the island.

Isle Royale became a United States National Park in 1940.  It gained Wilderness designation in 1976.  There are only two developed locations on island. The island is open to visitors from April through October. In 2023, Isle Royale was the least visited National Park in the Continental U.S. at 28,965 and 59th out of 63 if Alaska and American Samoa are included.  For perspective Great Smoky Mountains National Park was the most visited at 13.3 million. Grand Canyon was next at 4.7 million visitors.

The Mythical Wolf

The grey wolf (aka Timber) began life on the island in 1949.  It is believed a pair of wolves crossed onto Isle Royale via an ice bridge.

The Moose

The Moose began life on the island in 1900. It is believed they swam across the lake to Isle Royale from Minnesota.

The Story

There is only one place on earth with a single predator – single prey situation.  The location is Isle Royale National Park.  The predator is the grey wolf.  The prey is the moose.  A study of this unique situation began in 1958. L. David Mech began the study. The study continues to this day. It is the longest study of its kind in history.

Wolf Island is story of the life and experience of L. David Mech, the wolf, and the moose throughout the study.  It is a story filled with wonderful technical, statistical detail wrapped in humanism.


For more on Isle Royale look [here].

4 Replies to “Revealing Something Mythical – Wolf Island

  1. My cousin and his wife have done multi-week backpacking trips to Isle Royal. They saw wolves and moose. Keep up the great work Jefe

    1. Hi Tim,

      Thanks for the complement.

      I am thinking of going there. Steve Waite is encouraging me to seek an Artist in Residence position. Steve says he will join me if it happens.

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