Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Public input needed on Isle Royale #wolves

by Aleah Hordges
Posted: 04.21.2015

PhotoHOUGHTON -- In five years there has been an 88 percent drop in the wolf population at Isle Royale National Park. There are now only three wolves left.

According to Rolf Peterson, MTU Associate Professor, "We have advocated for several years that the best scientific opportunities would be, would accrue from putting wolves there in a genetic rescue."
Warmer winter conditions have led to a lack of reliable ice bridges for wolf packs to travel to the island in Lake Superior. That lack of visiting animals means the genetic pool is dwindling. When the ice bridges are there, the visits are very short. "In February, two wolves from Mainland came across an ice bridge and spent five days on the island and then went home," says Peterson.

Isle Royale has the longest running study of wolves in the world. Now researchers are ready to step in in needed to introduce new animals to the island. Even one new wolf will make a difference. But the decision about the wolf pack is still being worked on.

The park's management team has been in a three-year process of implementing a plan of action. Climate change, island ecology, and public values all need to be taken into account.

The public can weigh in on the matter through the park management website. The hope is to have a plan set in place by the end of summer.