Public supports genetic rescue of wolves

Questions regarding the Flora and Fauna on the island.

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Public supports genetic rescue of wolves

Post by johnhens » Sat Nov 14, 2015 9:08 pm ... l?nav=5006

Text of article:

HOUGHTON - Nearly 90 percent of people responding to a National Park Service call for public comment say NPS should be ready to step in to ensure a viable wolf population on Isle Royale National Park, according to an independent analysis of 930 comments received.

Currently, there are only two or three badly interbred wolves on the island, according to Michigan Technological University researchers involved in Tech's world-famous wolf/moose population study. That population is unlikely to survive without augmenting it with wolves from off the island, and the researchers say the wolves' extinction could seriously disturb the island's ecological balance.

Without wolves, they say, the island's moose population will be limited only by their food supply. Unchecked by wolf predation, the moose would likely devastate the plant species that make up their diet and begin a boom/bust population cycle.

Article Photos

Photo provided by Rolf Peterson/MTU
The youngest of three remaining wolves on Isle Royale walks across hard-packed snow on the island last winter. The wolf’s humped back is likely evidence of genetic inbreeding, one reason researchers feel wolves will go extinct on the island without intervention.

Michael Nelson, an Oregon State University professor of environmental philosophy and ethics, spoke about his team's analysis of public comments submitted to NPS during a lecture at Michigan Tech Thursday.

Nelson said the Park Service opened a public comment period in 2012 on whether, and how, the Park Service should handle the wolf situation on the island. His team used the Freedom of Information Act to gain access to comments submitted so far and analyzed the first 930, about half of what he expects the Park Service to receive before commenting closes in 2017.

Nelson said 68 percent of those who sent in clearly understandable comments wrote that the Park Service should perform a "genetic rescue," intervening immediately by bringing in wolves from off the island. Another 18 percent felt that the Park Service should let the current wolves on the island go extinct, then should reintroduce new, healthier wolves.

About 2 percent offered more unique solutions that included at least some potential for intervention, while just 12 percent said the Park Service should not intervene in the situation.

John Vucetich, leader of the wolf/moose study and a professor in Michigan Tech's School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, has long been a proponent of augmenting the wolf population before the moose population starts to explode.

He said large numbers of scientists are joining the public in support of importing new wolves.

"About 50 scientists arguing in favor of restoration sent a letter," he said. "It also seems Dave Mech may have changed his mind."

Mech is a prominent Minnesota-based wolf researcher who in the past has advocated letting the situation play itself out before considering augmentation.

Geordan Stukey, a first-year chemical engineering student at Michigan Tech, said he's been interested in the Isle Royale wolf/moose dynamic for years, after reading a book written by Rolf Peterson, a research professor with the study and Vucetich's predecessor as study leader. At this point, he said, he feels importing some new wolves would be appropriate.

"I personally think we should get involved," he said. "We get valuable research from the study."

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Re: Public supports genetic rescue of wolves

Post by treeplanter » Sun Nov 15, 2015 8:59 am

A good article on this subject in today's Detroit Free Press: ... /75725904/

What I found interesting is that a group called "Wilderness Watch" seems to be threatening a lawsuit if the NPS does perform a genetic rescue.

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Re: Public supports genetic rescue of wolves

Post by Midwest Ed » Sun Nov 15, 2015 12:50 pm

treeplanter wrote:What I found interesting is that a group called "Wilderness Watch" seems to be threatening a lawsuit if the NPS does perform a genetic rescue.
This is why more than just public opinion is needed. The lawsuit would almost certainly be based on The Wilderness Act, specifically based on the phrase in the the act "untrammeled by man". An act of Congress specifically targeted for IRNP could of course allow interdiction but the wilderness act itself, in my reading, allows interdiction. To paraphrase what I’ve researched, there are statements in the law that states if humans created a problem then it can be OK to take corrective action. There are two prominent examples 1) introduction of canine parvovirus by a pet dog and 2) anthropomorphic global warming/climate change. Both of these things have presumably contributed to the downfall of the wolf population.
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