Isle Royale Responds to Dwindling Wolf Population

Rock Harbor, Isle Royale National Park (Photo by Joe Ross via Flickr)

The National Park Service will not bring more wolves to Isle Royale to help the wolf pack there survive, the agency has announced as part of a broader plan to address and study related ecological issues.

Since the population of wolves on the islands fell to just one breeding pack in recent years, the Park has been pressured by some to introduce more wolves to expand the genetic pool and increase the population. Other advocates have said that since the park is a federal Wilderness, human intervention is inappropriate and illegal.

The announcement yesterday does not rule out bringing in wolves in the future, but stated that it may still be an option in the future. The Park Service pointed to the potential that the wolf decline could lead to overpopulation of moose, which in turn could harm the biological integrity of the park’s vegetation through over-browsing.

The park will respond with a “comprehensive planning process that considers management of wolves, moose, and vegetation on the island.” Pointing to issues like climate change, Superintendent Phyllis Green said the park ecosystem may change in the years ahead, and the wolf plan needs to take that into consideration.

“We need to monitor the island and share information about the changing ecosystem to ensure this remains a dynamic wilderness setting and that park visitors will have a wilderness experience for generations to come,” Green said in the statement.

Scoping for the planning project will begin this fall, and the plan will take about three years to create, Green told the Associated Press.


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