Saturday, March 04, 2017

National Wolfwatcher Coalition to NPS: Modify Plan B on Isle Royale wolves to insure sustainable wolf populations

[Editor's Note: March 15, 2017, is the deadline for comments to the National Park Service (NPS) on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to Address the Presence of Wolves on Isle Royale.* The following are comments submitted to NPS by Nancy Warren of the National Wolfwatcher Coalition.]

By Nancy Warren, Wolfwatcher Coalition Executive Director and Great Lakes Regional Director

We appreciate the effort put forth in the development of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for addressing the presence of wolves at Isle Royale National Park by utilizing the best available scientific data in consultation with researchers and biologists.

While, the National Wolfwatcher Coalition is supportive of Alternative B -- Immediate Limited Introduction, the preferred alternative, we suggest that Alternative B be modified to include a contingency plan should a catastrophic event occur during the life of the plan.

Under Alternative B, wolves may be supplemented for an additional two years if an unforeseen event impacts the wolf population. But, after five years, no additional wolves will be placed on Isle Royale.

Research is clear that wolves must be present in sufficient numbers to fulfill their ecological role.

There must be sufficient flexibility to insure genetic diversity for wolves in the unlikely event disease or mortality reduces the population to less than 12 individuals or less than 3 breeding females. We recommend that, at a minimum, the plan be evaluated every five years to insure there are sustainable populations of wolves for the foreseeable future. Any remedial actions should be based on the advice and recommendations of researchers and biologists.

Under the best possible scenario, wolves will not be translocated to Isle Royale until late 2018. The island is already showing signs of degradation due to over browsing by moose. The moose population continues to increase. No ice bridge formed this year and it is unlikely that the two remaining wolves will successfully breed. It is unknown how much longer these two wolves can hang on.  

We ask that the NPS make every effort to expeditiously review the DEIS comments, evaluate the scientific data, issue the final plan/EIS and consider placing wolves on Isle Royale sooner, rather than later.

Inset photo: Nancy Warren of National Wolfwatcher Coalition. (Keweenaw Now file photo.) 

*Note: Click here to access information on the Draft EIS and to comment.