Adding Wolves to Isle Royale
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
March 19, 2018
The National Park Service has proposed to introduce 20-30 wolves to Isle Royale National Park. The Final Environmental Impact Statement to Address the Presence of Wolves (plan/FEIS) evaluates whether and how to bring wolves to Isle Royale to function as the apex predator within a changing and dynamic island ecosystem. The NPS preferred alternative is Alternative B, which calls for the introduction of 20 to 30 wolves over a three-year period. The goal of this alternative is to provide an introduction of wolves that has the potential to become a self-sustaining population.
According to the NPS, "A decision is needed because the potential absence of wolves raises concerns about possible effects to the current Isle Royale ecosystem, including effects to both the moose population and forest/vegetation communities. Over the past five years the wolf population has declined steeply and at this time, natural recovery of the population is unlikely. Although wolves have not always been part of the Isle Royale ecosystem, they have been present for more than 65 years, and have played a key role in the ecosystem, affecting the moose population and other species during that time."
There appears to be two severely inbred wolves remaining on the island, and the proposal to augment the population has generated substantial controversy regarding human intervention in a wilderness environment.
After a waiting period of at least 30 days, the NPS will issue a Record of Decision that documents the final decision and sets out a course of action for the project.