Find us on Pinterest
Find us Interact on Facebook Follow on Twitter Donate to NWC Shop the NWC Store Subscribe to the Newsletter

Interact       Follow       Donate        Shop       Forward   Subscribe

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,
May 5, 2016
In This Issue
Genetic Rescue
How to Comment
Help Support NWC
About Us
The National Park Service Heard Our Howls
After a public-comment period and "additional internal deliberations," the National Park Service (NPS) announced they would shelve plans to utilize volunteer hunters to "cull" (aka hunt) moose on Isle Royale.

Comments were received from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 19 other countries. Overwhelmingly, commenters urged the NPS to bring new wolves to Isle Royale. 

So now, NPS has narrowed their scope of the EIS and will focus on the core question of whether to replace the island's crashed wolf population in the near future, and if so, how to do so, with new wolves.  As a result, the NPS has opened a new comment period.

Your input is vital if future generations will hear the howl of the wolf on Isle Royale. 
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 3 to only 2.  The remaining wolves are 6 & 8 years old. With only 2 wolves,  this is the lowest level since studies began in 1959.  In 2009, the wolf population was 24.  Meanwhile the moose population is increasing at a rate of about 22% (population now estimated to exceed 1300)


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 - five years and is expected to remain so for the foreseeable future.


For information about the wolf and moose project visit

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 Four Alternatives Being Considered

The NPS has narrowed the scope of the EIS to the four alternatives below.  Our comments for each alternative follows:

Alternative A (No-Action Alternative) 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.  
NWC:  Some argue that  moose,
 wolves and the vegetation will run their course and within a wilderness setting, the NPS should not intervene.  We disagree. Within a natural system, there needs to be a balance. Ecosytems work best when there is a balance and wolves are needed to restore the balance.  
Absent wolf immigration, which no one can predict, there is no likelihood of having a wolf population without human action.

Alternative B 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 
Brandi 1
as possible following a signed record of decision.  
NWC: This option is very short sighted. 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.

Alternative C 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 judgment. This action would occur as soon as possible following a signed record of decision.  
NWC:  We support this option as it allows for maximum flexibility. 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.  

Alternative D 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).  
NWC: This option is essentially the same as Alternative A "no action" except there would be some exit strategy. The "moose or vegetation-based parameters" do not exist at present.   
Genetic Rescue
For years, researchers have been sounding the alarm about the plight of wolves on Isle Royale.  

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.  

Genetic rescue (adding a small number of new wolves to the remnant population in an attempt to save the genetics of the original wolves) would have: 
  • Preserved in the island's gene pool the DNA of the historic wolf population, including perhaps, genetically encoded knowledge gained from adapting to its closed ecosystem.
  • Most closely mimicked the "natural" processes that brought new wolves to the island from mainland sources, over ice bridges that are becoming less common in a warming climate.
  • Lead to new scientific knowledge about genetic-rescue techniques and results. 
  • Been the fastest way to restore a predator population to a level of health that can exert effective control over a prey population, which now has been lost on Isle Royale for the past few years and at least a few years to come.

For genetic rescue to have worked, NPS needed to initiate actions years ago.
Photo Credit Rolf Peterson

The public scoping period ended 8/29, however, the Record of Decision is not expected until Fall 2017 at the earliest.   

This foot dragging on the part of NPS is unacceptable.Every effort must be made by the NPS to expedite the decision.
Action Needed
MAY 16, 2016  





Mail or Hand-Deliver Comments to: 


Isle Royale National Park
ISRO Wolves


800 E Lakeshore Dr

Houghton, MI 49931

Help Support Our Work
We are an all volunteer organization dedicated to providing factual information about wolves through education and advocacy.  

This design was created by the Bonfire team exclusively for use by the National Wolfwatcher Coalition to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of our National Parks.

The back of the shirt lists the names of all our National Parks where the howl of the wolf can now be heard.

The National Wolfwatcher Coalition has no membership dues and we do not send out mailers asking for money.  We exist because of the hundreds of hours donated by our volunteers, through your generous donations and through the sale of merchandise.

Available in long, short sleeve and hoodies


     501(c)(3) nonprofit, all volunteer organization  




Our mission:  

We 'educate, advocate, and participate' for the long term recovery and preservation of wolves based on the best available science and the principles of democracy.  We:  

  1. Educate the public about the important role that wolves play in maintaining healthy ecosystems
  2. Inform the public about challenges to wolf recovery
  3. Support measures that promote peaceful coexistence with wolves on the landscape
  4. Educate the public about the issues in all regions and ways it can effectively participate in the democratic process to promote science-based decision-making about wolves.

All donations, no matter the amount, will be appreciated because they will enable us to: 

  • Provide educational programs, materials and events
  • Participate in conferences, seminars, and consultation with other professionals in the fields of wolf biology, research, conservation, eco-tourism and environmental law.
  • Secure a Wolfwatcher Legal Fund to sustain potential engagement in litigation that challenges local, state and/or federal policies that affect wolf preservation.

To donate online, please click on the Donate button at the top. To donate by check or money order,  please send your donation to our business office at: National Wolfwatcher Coalition, PO Box 161281, Duluth, MN   55816-1281



National Wolfwatcher Coalition | PO Box 161281 | Duluth | MN | 55816-1281