New Wolves Released at Isle Royale

Little Hawk Island Sunset, photo by Carl TerHaar

mLive reports that a pair of new wolves have been released on Isle Royale in an effort to control a exploding moose population that threatens to overwhelm one of Michigan’s most unique ecosystems.

Late Wednesday, two gray wolves were taken from the Grand Portage Indian Reservation in Minnesota and taken aboard a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plane to the island.

The wolves, a 4-year-old female and a 5-year-old male, were taken to separate release sites, and well away from the island’s two remaining wolves.

“It did not take long for the female to leave the crate and begin exploring her new home on the island. The male left his crate after dark,” the NPS said in a release.

“Other wolves will join the two in the coming weeks.”

Up to 30 wolves are expected to be caught in Minnesota, Michigan’s U.P. and even Ontario, Canada as part of this relocation effort.

Click through for more and their awesome video of the release!

Carl took this in late September of 2009. View it background big and see more in his massive Isle Royale album.

PS: Get an idea of the sheer amazingness of Isle Royale with 350+ more photos from Isle Royale in the Absolute Michigan group on Flickr at the Isle Royale tag on Michigan in Pictures, and at the  Isle Royale National Park website!

Stoll Trail Incident and How Isle Royale Became a Park

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Silhouette of a Moose, photo by Nina

Nina writes that she came upon this moose looking like a fake silhouette against a beautiful backdrop while hiking Albert Stoll Memorial Trail just before sunset at Isle Royale. Read Houghton, Flight to Isle Royale, and the Stoll Trail Incident for lots more including photos on Nina’s blog Black Coffee at Sunrise.

This excellent history of Isle Royale National Park from ParkVision explains how this remote Lake Superior Island became a park and Mr. Stoll’s role:

As early as the 1860’s some visited the island for touring or pleasure. But by the turn of the century a real tourism industry was beginning to exist on the island, fueled in part by the growth of midwestern cities. The first hotel on the island, the Johns Hotel, was built in 1892, and other early resorts were built at Tobin Harbor, Rock Harbor, and Washington Island. By the 1920’s there were a number of sizeable resorts located on Isle Royale and some of the smaller islands surrounding it. The moist, cool air on the island provided a popular escape from the midwestern summer heat and for hay fever sufferers.

The 1920’s also brought an effort to gain preservation of and national park status for the island. This effort was spearheaded by Albert Stoll Jr. of the Detroit News, and it was endorsed by Stephen Mather who visited the island in 1924. The threat of extensive logging of the island’s forests in 1922 enhanced concern about the importance of preservation of the island’s magnificent natural resources. Isle Royale gained a measure of fame as a result of a daring winter visit by plane by Ben East and his companions.

In 1930 the Michigan legislature created the Isle Royale National Park Commission. Establishment of the island and surrounding areas as a national park was authorized when Herbert Hoover signed legislation on March 31, 1931. However, initially no money was authorized for its establishment. The Depression and World War II intervened, and it was not until August of 1946 after all park lands had been acquired that the park was finally dedicated in a ceremony on Mott Island.

Read on for lots more!

View Nina’s photo background big and see more at Black Coffee at Sunrise where she will have further posts from her latest journey!

The Future of Wolves on Isle Royale

Wolf on Isle Royale

Alpha Male, photo by Rolf Peterson/Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale

The National Park Service has opened a formal public comment period that will close on August 29, 2015 regarding future management options for wolves in Isle Royale National Park. The wolf population has plummeted because of a lack of gene flow from the mainland and park management is considering an array of options. If you have commented before, do it again as anything preceding the current comment period is now considered informal input and won’t be considered further.

Moose have important effects on island vegetation, including forest cover, and wolves are the only moose predator on the island. The wolf population on Isle Royale is very low. With their long-term survival on the island in question, the moose population is likely to increase in the short term (5-10 years), which could result in impacts to vegetation and forest cover because of over-browsing.The six plan options they lay out in this PDF are:

  1. No-action alternative: Current management would continue; the park would not actively manage vegetation or the moose and wolf populations
  2. Introduce wolves once: Reestablish wolves on the island by bringing in new wolves one time to mimic a migration event; no moose management
  3. Maintain both species: Maintain populations of moose and wolves on the island, which could include wolf reintroduction or augmentation
  4. Introduce wolves once and reduce the moose population: Reestablish wolves on the island by bringing in new wolves one time; reduce moose density if/when the wolf population is no longer impacting the moose population and moose herbivory is having a demonstrated impact on park resources
  5. Reduce moose population: No wolf reintroduction or augmentation; reduce moose density if/when the wolf population is no longer impacting the moose population and moose herbivory is having a demonstrated impact on park resources
  6. Intensively manage the moose population: No wolf reintroduction or augmentation; intensively manage moose population to a low level; potential for direct vegetation restoration through seed gathering and planting on offshore islands

Click over for more and to comment.

The Wolf Moose Project on Isle Royale is the longest continuous study of any predator-prey system in the world. Rolf Peterson began leading the wolf moose project in the early 1970s, and remains a world authority on wolves and moose. About this photo he says:

It was a remote camera photo that I set up. It shows the alpha male in the Chippewa Harbor Pack in 2009, revisiting the remains of a moose the pack killed in the adjacent pond the previous autumn.  The wolves managed to yank the remains out of the pond the next summer and consume the rotting carcass.

You can view this photo background bigtacular and follow the Wolves & Moose of Isle Royale on Facebook for updates.

More wolves on Michigan in Pictures.

Space Weather and Starbreeze

Isle Royale Star Breeze

Isle Royale starbreeze, photo by Shawn Malone/Lake Superior Photo

If you’re a watcher of the northern lights or want to be, NOAA’s Space Weather Projection Center at spaceweather.gov is a resource you should be aware of. It’s packed full of all kinds of data on what’s happening on the sun and how that impacts us here on earth.

Yesterday they updated to an all-new site that I encourage you to check out. The coolest things I found so far are the Space Weather Enthusiast Dashboard and the 30 minute aurora forecast, a seriously awesome visualization of aurora potential. Be sure to subscribe to their space weather alerts for tips on when the aurora borealis might be visible!

Shawn says that the stars were screaming that night at Isle Royale National Park. View her photo bigger on the Lake Superior Photo Facebook, and if you like you can purchase the photo right here. And speaking of northern lights, be sure to click for a time-lapse of the aurora over Isle Royale with a very cool soundtrack she recorded of loons on the island.

More northern lights and more Isle Royale on Michigan in Pictures.

Morning coffee at Chippewa Harbor

Chippewa Harbor Isle Royale

Morning coffee at Chippewa Harbor, photo by Brent West

Hard to imagine a more beautiful spot to enjoy your morning joe than Chippewa Harbor at Isle Royale National Park.

You can view Brent’s photo bigger and click for a couple more of his Isle Royale shots.

Lots more from Isle Royale on Michigan in Pictures.