National Park Service To Release Wolves On Isle Royale

001WASHINGTON — The National Park Service today put forward a draft plan to release 20 to 30 new wolves on Isle Royale over a three-year period as a way to bolster a population on the remote Lake Superior island that has dwindled to just two and is in danger of vanishing altogether.

If the Park Service – which for more than a year has been looking at the fading Isle Royale wolf population and a moose herd that has swelled to 1,300 animals with its main predator in decline – follows through, it could quickly revive a closed ecosystem on the rugged 45-mile-long island protected from hunting and existing largely outside of human interference.

But it could also stir up concerns that the Park Service, in an attempt to address climate change and warmer winters that have in recent years reduced ice bridges to the island – in turn halting natural wolf migration from Canada – is setting a precedent that some environmental groups believe violates the federal Wilderness Act’s requirement that lands remain “untrammeled” by human intervention.

The draft plan put out today recognized the dichotomy inherent in the Park Service’s mission on Isle Royale, saying the proposed action will help to restore the natural order on the island by reintroducing an “apex predator” but noting it also results in “substantial impacts to (the island’s) wilderness character overall because of the intentional manipulation of the
… environment.” The proposal also calls for monitoring wolves placed on the island by radio collar.

“This is about more than wolves,” said Phyllis Green, superintendent of Isle Royale National Park, which takes up virtually all of island located 55 miles across Lake Superior from the Upper Peninsula and is closed from November to April. “It’s about the entire park ecosystem and where it is heading in the future with changing conditions.”

Comments are closed.