Wilderness Watch: National Park Service’s inhumane plan to capture and exile mainland wolves to Isle Royale

Sept. 24, 2018 – The National Park Service has decided to move ahead with its ill-advised plan for heavy-handed manipulation of the Isle Royale Wilderness in Michigan. The Park Service is beginning to plan for its initial capture of six wolves from other places in the region, which will then be released on Isle Royale, 99 percent of which is designated Wilderness. The agency’s goal is to ultimately release 20 to 30 wolves there—an action that is both inhumane and fundamentally at odds with the mandates of the Wilderness Act.

The individual wolves will be removed from their packs and exiled to Isle Royale—an isolated island in the Great Lakes—where, in addition to being collared and under constant surveillance, they will most likely suffer the same inbreeding fate that has decimated wolves throughout their short-lived history on Isle Royale. The Park Service’s primary motivations consider neither wolves nor the Wilderness it’s entrusted to protect, but revolve around the continuation of a wolf-moose predator-prey study and tourist desires to see or hear wolves.

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While Wilderness Watch has long worked to protect wolves in Wilderness, the National Park Service’s project fails both wolves and Wilderness. Ice bridges have formed connecting the island to the mainland three out of the last five years, but rather than populating the island, wolves have chosen to reside on the mainland. The best course of action for Isle Royale is to allow wolves to decide whether they will come or go from the island via natural migration. This would allow the island and its wolves to remain wild, in stark contrast to the Park Service’s artificial predator stocking plan.

Overtly manipulating ecosystems is antithetical to the fundamental tenets of the Wilderness Act, which defines Wilderness as places “untrammeled [uncontrolled and unmanipulated] by man.” In addition to manipulating the wolf population and endangering individual wolves, the Park Service could land helicopters in the Wilderness to accomplish the relocation. This is a clear violation of the Wilderness Act, and another reason why the project should never have been approved.

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Wilderness Watch is the leading national organization whose sole focus is the preservation and proper stewardship of lands and rivers included in the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS).  www.wildernesswatch.org