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Michigan Tech Researcher Urges People To Comment On Isle Royale Wolf Proposals

A public comment period is open regarding suggestions on what to do about wolves on Isle Royale.

The draft Environmental Impact Statement offers four options…the preferred option by the National Park Service being to introduce 20 to 30 wolves to the park over a three year period.

Michigan Tech Research Professor Rolf Peterson is one of the co-principal investigators of a wolf-moose research project, along with Professor John Vucetich, that looks at predator-prey interactions on the island.

“It’s a little more bold than what I expected,” Peterson said. “But it’s consistent with the idea that they want to restore predation as soon as possible. And, so they get it. They realize the lack of predation is leading to a problem, as these prey populations tend to explode and so the intent is to try to reverse that as soon as possible.”

Peterson also says that many wolves will give the maximum opportunity for introducing new genetic material into the population.

The public comment period is required by law…and those comments are taken into consideration when making the final decision.

Peterson said, “It’s not a vote, so it’s not a matter of piling up ‘yes’s’ and ‘no’s’, but the comment period is intended to provide an opportunity for people to weigh in on the pros and cons of the merits of the proposals, so I encourage people to do that.”

Public comments are being accepted through March 15th.

Here is the press release from the Isle Royale National Park:

HOUGHTON, MICHIGAN – 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, at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/isrowolves.

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 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.”

The draft EIS is available at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/isrowolves.  A limited number of hard copies 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 at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/isrowolves, 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.

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, www.nps.gov/isro , Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Isle-Royale-National-Park-127161610664143/ , and at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/isrowolves .


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