Public Input Sought on Isle Royale Wolf Management

Gray wolf, photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

As the wolf population on Isle Royale dwindles, the National Park Service is holding hearings and soliciting comments on options for its response. The meetings will be held later this month in Duluth, St. Paul and Michigan.

Park superintendent Phyllis Green told Minnesota Public Radio News that the wolves aren’t expected to disappear too soon, but that new information has come to light about their fate, “We’ve gotten some information in the last years on climate change and the history and things that perhaps folks haven’t gotten a chance to think about or review.”

At a public forum in June, the management options were outlined by four guests with different viewpoints. Recommendations ranged from not intervening at all, even if it means the extirpation of wolves from the island after more than 50 years, to introducing new wolves to expand the population and the genetic pool.

According to MinnPost, the lead researcher on the long-time wolf-moose study at the park is advocating for human intervention, based on the anticipated effects on the ecosystem if the island’s moose don’t have a predator. In a May New York Times op-ed, Peterson and other scientists argued for intervention, writing, “The future health of Isle Royale will be judged against one of the most important findings in conservation science: that a healthy ecosystem depends critically on the presence of top predators like wolves when large herbivores, like moose, are present.”

At the May meeting, David Mech, another scientist who has studied the island’s wolves, argued to let nature run its course. He believes it’s too early to say the wolves are dying out. Tim Cochrane, superintendent at nearby Grand Portage National Park, says the wolves and moose are relatively recent inhabitants of the island, and humans shouldn’t artificially support their presence.

Park superintendent Green told the Duluth News Tribune that the Park Service is leaning toward non-intervention, but she is still undecided. The news of new wolf pups on the island this summer have also given managers some breathing room while they decide.

Hearings

The meetings will be held simultaneously with hearings on the park’s Cultural Management Plan Environmental Impact Statement.

  • St. Paul, Minnesota
    Nov. 19, 6 to 8 p.m.
    Minnesota History Center
    345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
  • Duluth, Minnesota
    Nov. 20, 6 to 8 p.m.
    Great Lakes Aquarium
    353 Harbor Drive
  • Houghton, Michigan
    Nov. 12, 6 to 8 p.m.
    Franklin Square Inn, Magnusson Hotel
    820 Shelden Avenue
  • Chelsea, Michigan
    Nov. 14, 6 to 8 p.m. 
    Chelsea Depot
    125 Jackson Street

 

Submit comments

Citizens can also send comments on the issue to Paul Brown, the park’s resource chief, at  paul_brown@nps.gov.

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