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Thank you for reading these important updates. We appreciate your support as we educate, advocate and participate on behalf of wolves.

"The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant:   What good is it?"                   

     Aldo Leopold 

Thank you,
 August 19, 2015
In This Issue
Wolves & Moose Isle Royale
EIS Process Has Begun
Article Title
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Suggested Comments
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About Us
Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale
Isle Royale is a remote wilderness island, located in Lake Superior with a population of wolves and moose. 


The wolves and moose of Isle Royale have been the subject of ongoing research for more than fifty years and is the longest continuous study of any predator-prey system in the world.  Over the years, moose and wolf populations fluctuated but were always entwined and the moose-wolf-vegetation food web is tightly coupled.


The latest survey shows the wolf population declined from 9 to only 3, the lowest level since studies began in 1959.  In 2009, the wolf population was 24.  Meanwhile last year the moose population increased from 1050 to 1250.


Conservation scientists believe that predation - the

Photo George Desort
ecosystem function that wolves provide - is vital to the health of ecosystems inhabited by large herbivores such as moose. On Isle Royale, predation has effectively been nil for the past four years and is expected to remain so for the foreseeable future.


For information about the wolf and moose project visit

The Future of Isle Royale Wolves?
The National Park Service has initiated an environmental review under the 
National Environmental Policy Act.  
Photo by George Desort

Can the wolves of Isle Royale count on you to submit comments that will decide the fate of moose and wolves at Isle Royale National Park for the next twenty years?  

Wolves Change Everything Around Them

Photo by George Desort.
In 1929, before the arrival of wolves, the minimum moose population on Isle Royale was about 1000 but 
 it is very likely, based on ground observations, the population exceeded 3000.


At that time, vegetation was in an extreme state of deterioration; water plants were largely cleaned out; ground hemlock were nearly gone; Fir / Aspen / Paper Birch were heavily suppressed and trees were stripped of twigs.  


The constant browsing and girdling by the moose stresses the trees and can eventually kill them.  

nless the next five winters are especially harsh, the moose population is likely to dramatically increase, and moose will begin to die by disease and starvation.  

Photo by R.O. Peterson

Wolves are the only predators of moose on Isle Royale and there is no way to predict how long the island's wolves will hang on without intervention.  

The Six Alternatives for Isle Royale

The National Park Service has put forth six alternatives to address the issue of moose, wolves and vegetation at Isle Royale:

Concept A - No Action - NPS would not actively manage vegetation or the moose and wolf population.  
Concept B - Introduce wolves ONCE - NPS would bring wolves to Isle Royale one time - no moose management.

Concept C - Maintain populations of moose and wolves which COULD include reintroduction (adding wolves after Isle Royale wolves die) or augmentation (adding wolves to the existing population).

Concept D - Introduce wolves ONCE and reduce moose population if/when the wolf population is no longer impacting the moose population and moose herbivory is having a demonstrated impact on vegetation.

Concept E - NO wolf reintroduction or augmentation. ONLY reduce moose density if/when the wolf population is no longer impacting the moose population and moose herbivory is having a demonstrated impact on vegetation.

Concept F - NO wolf reintroduction or augmentation. Intensely manage moose population through culling or translocation.
"Tools"  Being Considered on Isle Royale
99% of the land area of Isle Royale National Park is designated as "wilderness" which is the highest level of conservation protection for federal lands. Wilderness areas generally do not allow motorized equipment, motor vehicles, mechanical transport, temporary roads, permanent structures or installations .

Through the Wilderness Act, Congress recognized the intrinsic value of wild lands. Some of the tangible and intangible values mentioned in the Wilderness Act include "solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation," as well as "ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value."  

The NPS is considering culling to manage moose density. Typically hunting is not allowed within a National Park. 

"Culling", uses volunteers selected through a lottery (not agency personnel) to kill animals in our National Parks.  It is done in Colorado to reduce elk numbers and in Yellowstone to kill bison because "predation has had a minor influence on bison population dynamics."  

This is essentially  the same language NPS is using for Isle Royale as a reason to kill moose.  With "culling" the shooter doesn't keep the meat; it is donated.

The NPS has also stated that it may be necessary to use motorized or mechanized equipment to effectively manage moose.

The National Wolfwatcher Coalition does not support the culling of moose or the use of motorized or mechanized equipment on Isle Royale within wilderness areas.  

We need to send a strong message to NPS that these practices should not be allowed.

Talking Points 

Comment  Deadline Fast Approaching

Due 8/29/2015

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.

Additional Comments:  Those who visit Isle Royale do so for the wilderness experience which includes wolves and moose.  Explain what you value about wilderness and why.  
Action Needed
How to Submit Comments
AUGUST 29, 2015   




Submit comments electronically at

Mail or Hand-Deliver Comments to: 



Isle Royale National Park

Attn:  Moose-Wolf-Vegetation Management Plan

800 E Lakeshore Drive

Houghton, MI 49931

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