Isle Royale National Park is a remote island in Lake Superior where only two wolves remain, the lowest population in more than 50 years. Scientists believe a natural recovery in the population is highly unlikely. As top predator, wolves play a critical role in the health of the island ecosystem.

The National Park Service is seeking comment on an environmental analysis of four options to address the loss of the park’s wolf population on the island ecosystem. The Park Service indicates that the preferred management option is to immediately introduce 20-30 wolves to the park over a three-year period. 

NPCA supports the Park Service analysis that bringing new wolves to the park will ensure a sustainable population and help balance the delicate ecosystem at Isle Royale National Park.

The Dilemma

Isle Royale National Park is a remote island in Lake Superior that is 99 percent federally designated wilderness. It is home to the longest predator-prey study in the world, focused on the interplay between the island’s most famous residents, its wolves and moose.

Right now there are only two wolves left on the island, the lowest population at the park in over 50 years. The wolves on the island are now inbred, which negatively impacts their ability to breed.

Wolves play a critical role as the top predator on the island, and their dwindling numbers have resulted in a rising moose population. In the absence of a predator, the moose population will continue to grow, which could devastate the island native vegetation, eliminating their food source as well as that of other species on the island.  

The question now is what should be done about the dwindling wolf population. NPCA believes that bringing new wolves to Isle Royale is the best method for protecting the long-term survival of moose while supporting a balanced and sustainable ecosystem at the park. 

Next Steps

The National Park Service is seeking comment through March 15, 2017 on an analysis of four management alternatives.

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