Should wolves be released on Isle Royale?
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
March 18, 2016
The National Park Service is moving forward with an environmental planning process to address the wolf population in Isle Royale National Park. The island's wolf population has dropped to just two animals.
According the the NPS, "The average wolf population on the island over the past 65 years has been about 22, but there have been as many as 50 wolves on the island and as few as three. Over the past five years the population has declined steeply, which has given rise to the need to determine whether the NPS should bring additional wolves to the island. There were three wolves documented on the island as of March 2015 and only two wolves have been confirmed as of February 2016. At this time, natural recovery of the population is unlikely."
Thus, the NPS is considering the following alternatives:
The NPS would not intervene and would continue current management. Wolves may come and go through natural migration, although the current population of wolves may die out.
The NPS would bring wolves to Isle Royale as a one-time event over a defined period of time (e.g. over a 36 month period) to increase the longevity of the wolf population on the
island. This action would occur as soon as possible following a signed record of decision.
The NPS would bring wolves to Isle Royale as often as needed in order to maintain a population of wolves on the island for at least the next 20 years, which is the anticipated life of the plan. The wolf population range and number of breeding pairs to be maintained on the island would be determined based on best available science and professional judgement. This action would occur as soon as possible following a signed record of decision.
The NPS would not take immediate action and would continue current management, allowing natural processes to continue. One or more resource indicators and thresholds would be developed to evaluate the condition of key resources, which could include moose or vegetation-based parameters. If a threshold is met, wolves would be brought to Isle Royale as a one-time event (per alternative B) or through multiple introductions (per alternative C).
For details, check out the links below.