Study Finds Wolves Genetically Diverse, Dispersing

by Cory Hatch

Wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains are genetically healthy and have migrated and bred successfully among subpopulations in central Idaho, greater Yellowstone and northern Montana, according to a new study.

Authors of the study analyzed DNA samples from 555 wolves, beginning with the reintroduction of a few dozen wolves in 1995 and running through 2004, when the population had grown to about 850 animals. The study was published in the October issue of Molecular Ecology.

“We found that genetic diversity was high and maintained throughout the study period for the three recovery areas,” the authors said. “Overall, genetic diversity throughout the [northern Rockies] was comparable or greater than estimates for other gray wolf populations.”

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