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National Park Service to introduce new wolves to Isle Royale National Park after decline

The Humane Society of the United States is applauding a recommendation by the National Park Service to introduce 20 to 30 wolves to Isle Royale National Park in Michigan over a three-year period. This decision comes after a dramatic decline in Isle Royale’s wolf population, with only two wolves remaining on the 210-square mile archipelago.

“Genetic rescue through introduction of wolves to Isle Royale National Park is the only way to restore the ecological integrity of this extraordinary place,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.  “Humanely capturing ‘problem’ wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, or Wisconsin and then translocating them to Isle Royale would have the added value of relieving the anxiety of farmers in wolf country and it would put these animals in a wilderness area without any livestock and no possibility of causing that kind of trouble.”

Pacelle wrote about the importance of wolves, from an economic and ecological perspective, in his new book, The Humane Economy. After spending a summer there in 1985, and returning there last year, Pacelle noted that the wolves play a critical role in limiting the growth of the island-bound moose population and they also serve as a primary draw for tourists to make the trek to one of America’s most remote national parks.

Human activities and impacts had a major role to play in the decline of the Isle Royale wolf population – from an outbreak of parvovirus that came from a domestic dog brought by a visitor to the island, to the death of wolves who fell into an old mine shaft, to the effect of climate change in reducing the frequency of ice bridges from mainland Canada and the inability of emigrant wolves to make it to the national park. Human activities created so many of the challenges for wolves, and now we can help put things back together.

The National Park Service is taking comments on the issue until March 15, 2017.

The HSUS expressed its sincere thanks to U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., who has been a leading advocate for restoring the wolf population on Isle Royale.


Media Contact: Chloe Detrick, cdetrick@humanesociety.org, 202-658-9091