The National Park Service is asking for input on 5 questions and it is critical they hear from you. The National Wolfwatcher Coalition offers a suggested response to each question.
Along with the ecological benefits wolves provide, they also have intrinsic value. You may not see a wolf or hear them howl but it is important to know there are still wild places where wolves exist. Try to use your own words. Explain why you believe Isle Royale should always support a healthy population of wolves.
Photo by J. A. Vucetich
Question 1 - What other alternatives, alternative elements or management tools should be considered?
Only 3 of the 6 alternative concepts mention wolf reintroduction or augmentation and none with any specificity. Concept B and Concept D only allow for wolves to be reestablished once which may not be sufficient and is very short sighted. Concept C allows for maintaining populations of wolves and moose which "could" include wolf reintroduction or augmentation.
Concept C appears to be the best alternative, however, it does not go far enough. There must be sufficient flexibility to allow for wolf reintroductions as necessary over the next 20 years to insure genetic diversity for wolves and sustainable populations of both wolves and moose into the foreseeable future.
Maintenance or culling of moose is not necessary if wolves are allowed to fulfill their ecological role. Absent wolf immigration, which no one can predict, there is no likelihood of having a wolf population without human action.
Question 2 - What should be considered when evaluating future management of moose, wolves and vegetation at Isle Royale?
We believe the NPS should consider and evaluate the ecological benefits wolves provide; The only pup observed in 2015 was visibly deformed; 100% of wolves examined since 1994 (over 30 of them) have spinal anomalies. The weakened state of the remaining wolves is likely interfering with reproduction and survival.
The NPS must consider the data collected through 57 years of research conducted on Isle Royale. These researchers should play a key role in the discussions.
Question 3 - What type and intensity of management should the NPS consider given that approximately 99% of the land area of Isle Royale National Park is designated wilderness?
NPS must protect the unique wilderness qualities of Isle Royale through monitoring of habitat for wildlife, including wolves and moose; maintenance of soil and water quality and ecological stability of plant and animal communities including the control of invasive species. Management is necessary to maintain important wilderness values including the presence of a top carnivore which is vital for ecosystem health. The culling of moose and the use of motorized equipment is unacceptable.
Question 4 - What type and intensity of management should the NPS consider in the face of a changing climate?
Climate change poses a fundamental threat to species and places. The only way to slow the impacts of climate change is to globally reduce carbon emissions. NPS could produce an informational flyer explaining the negative impacts climate change is having on Isle Royale such as the changes in the duration and frequency of the ice bridge, winter ticks, bird species etc. NPS could engage with businesses and private entities that use the island to reduce carbon pollution. Encourage visitors to reduce their carbon footprint by not bringing / disposing of water bottles.
Moose are not likely in any direct danger of being reduced by climate change, however, wolf predation is needed to limit the growth in their population.
Because of climate change, it is unlikely that wolves will be able to repopulate Isle Royale without NPS intervention and we ask for immediate action to augment / reintroduce wolves.
Question 5 - What do you like and dislike about the preliminary alternatives?
Photo credit Isle Royale Wolf/Moose Study
For years, researchers have been sounding the alarm about the plight of wolves on Isle Royale. Yet, the NPS has chosen to take no action until now. The public scoping period ends 8/29, however, the Record of Decision is not expected until Fall 2017 at the earliest. Two and one-half years is simply too long. This foot dragging on the part of NPS is unacceptable.
Evidence suggests that the few wolves on the island will not be able to keep moose populations in check which will further degrade the island's vegetation. Every effort must be made by the NPS to expedite the decision.
Those who visit Isle Royale do so for the wilderness experience which includes wolves and moose. Explain what you value about wilderness and why.