Tuesday, December 27, 2016

National Park Service seeks Public Comment on Draft Environmental Impact Statement to Address the Introduction of Wolves to Isle Royale

Isle Royale wolf. (Photo © and courtesy Rolf Peterson)

HOUGHTON -- Isle Royale National Park (ISRO) released for public review and comment the draft Environmental Impact Statement to Address the Presence of Wolves (draft EIS). The wolf population has declined to just two wolves in the past five years and scientists believe that natural recovery of the population is unlikely.

The draft EIS is open for public review and comment for 90 days, concluding March 15, 2017. Click here to read the draft EIS and comment on it.

The draft EIS evaluates four alternatives:  a no-action alternative and three action alternatives.  Alternative B is the National Park Service (NPS) preferred alternative. It calls for the immediate introduction of 20 to 30 wolves to the park over a three year period. The goal of the preferred alternative is the immediate introduction of enough wolves to the park to sustain a population.

Alternative A is no action. Under alternative C, the National Park Service would immediately introduce 6 - 15 wolves with the potential for subsequent introductions over a 20-year period in order to maintain a wolf population in the park. Alternative D provides continued monitoring with no immediate action to bring in wolves but the ability to do so in the future. The decision about future introductions would be based on moose population metrics and other observed changes in the ecosystem.

This slide from a July 2015 Open House presentation in Houghton by Andrew Coburn, NPS environmental protection specialist and project manager for the Isle Royale management plan/EIS, outlines the estimated schedule NPS has been following to prepare the Moose-Wolf-Vegetation Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (plan/EIS). The Draft Plan/EIS now available for public review concerns the presence of wolves on the island.* 

"This is about more than wolves," Park Superintendent Phyllis Green said. "It’s about the entire park ecosystem and where it is heading in the future with changing conditions. This is a complex issue to address. We have sought input from subject matter experts to evaluate the situation, and we would like to hear from the public on the current draft plan."

Click here to read the purpose of the draft EIS and to see the time left in the comment period. A limited number of hard copies of the draft EIS are available at park headquarters as well as public libraries in Houghton and Marquette, Michigan;  Superior, Wisconsin; and Duluth, Minnesota.

Comments may be submitted online as indicated above or by mailing or hand delivering comments to Superintendent Phyllis Green, Isle Royale National Park, ISRO Wolves, 800 East Lakeshore Drive, Houghton, Michigan 49931-1896.**

Public Meetings, Webinars to be held in February 2017

Isle Royale National Park will host public meetings and webinars to discuss the draft EIS in February, 2017.  Meetings will be held in the Houghton area as well as other sites to be determined in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and/or Michigan.  Dates, times and locations of these meetings will be announced in future news releases, on the park’s website, Isle Royale's Facebook page, and at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectId=59316.

Editor's Notes:

* See our Aug. 25, 2015, article on the July 2015 Isle Royale National Park Open House, "Public comments on Isle Royale Moose-Wolf-Vegetation Management Plan/EIS due Aug. 29; wildlife experts concerned about wolf rescue" for discussion on the wolf management issue and video clips from the presentations.

** For more background on this issue see this April 2016 article by Allison Mills of the Michigan Tech News: Michigan Tech News: Two Wolves Remain on Isle Royale.