Michigan legislators propose moose hunting on Isle Royale

Moose on Isle Royale (Photo by Todd VerBeek via Wikimedia)
[DISPLAY_ULTIMATE_SOCIAL_ICONS]Four lawmakers from Michigan, which owns Isle Royale despite the archipelago’s proximity to Minnesota, have introduced a resolution in favor of allowing moose hunting at the National Park. The legislators say it is a better plan to deal with the burgeoning moose population than trying to reintroduce wolves, which started last year.

The hunt would be limited using a tag lottery, says the chief sponsor, State Rep. Steve Johnson of Wayland. He points to 40 other National Parks that he says allow some form of hunting, including Great Lakes National Park Service-administered lands at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan, and at Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Rep. Steve Johnson

“It’s not often we have the opportunity to give hunters a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, help protect Michigan’s most pristine national park, and spur economic growth in the U.P.,” said Johnson. “This is a true win-win-win.”

A report last year showed the park’s moose population had rapidly grown from 515 in 2011 to more than 2,000 today, growing 19 percent each year. At the same time, the wolf population on the island dwindled to just two animals, spurring the reintroduction effort.

The resolution supporting hunting says previous wolf reintroduction efforts have not succeeded in restoring balance to the ecosystem, but does not identify those efforts. “This hunt will provide a unique hunting experience for a number of hunters each year, which in turn will bring increased economic activity to the western Upper Peninsula,” the resolution reads.

The large moose population poses problems for Isle Royale’s ecosystem, as the National Park Service said when examining the idea of reintroducing wolves. So many moose browsing on vegetation could dramatically change the forest, hurting habitat for other wildlife and reducing the overall balance.

In 2018, the National Park Service and partners started capturing wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, and Ontario where they are abundant and transporting them to the island. As of last month, there are now at least 15 wolves roaming the island, about halfway to the project’s stated goal of bringing up to 30 of the predators.

Three other legislators have signed onto the resolution, including one Democrat, David LaGrand of Grand Rapids. The resolution was referred to the Michigan House of Representatives’ Natural Resources Committee. Not binding like a low, if the resolution passes the House, it would be sent to the National Park Service, the state’s governor and Congressional delegation, and other officials.

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