Researchers call for preserving wolves on Isle Royale

If you’ve ever been to Isle Royale, if you ever have seen a moose in the wild, or a wolf in the wild, you should read a May 8 New York Times op-ed calling for the National Park Service to maintain a wolf population on the island.

The op-ed was written by John A. Vucetich, a population biologist, and Rolf O. Peterson, a wildlife ecologist, both at Michigan Tech University, and Michael P. Nelson, an environmental ethicist at Oregon State University.

A 55-year Michigan Tech study of wolves and moose on Isle Royale is the longest such predator-prey research in the world. Earlier this year, a winter count showed the wolf population – suffering from the long-term effects of inbreeding – appeared to have declined to eight animals.

Researchers believe no wolf pups were born on the island in 2012.

In the New York Times op-ed, the three researchers support either of two options:  introducing new wolves to the existing population, or replacing the existing wolves when the they die out on the island.

The researchers  note that “two of the architects of modern-day thinking about wilderness, the wildlife biologists Aldo Leopold and Adolph Murie, supported the idea of introducing wolves to Isle Royale in the 1940s — to conserve a habitat being overrun by moose — before wolves had arrived on their own.”