DULUTH, Minn. (AP) – The National Park Service plans to hold public meetings in Minnesota and Michigan on Isle Royale National Park’s wolf population, which is teetering on the verge of extinction.
A debate is underway among researchers, Park Service officials and the public on whether humans should intervene to preserve the island’s isolated wolf population, which some experts say appears doomed because of inbreeding and climate change.
Officials said there are three basic options: doing nothing, waiting for the existing wolves to die off and then reintroducing new wolves, or introducing new wolves soon while some wolves still are present.
Phyllis Green, superintendent of Isle Royale National Park, said the meetings will explain the predicament, offer new information and take public suggestions.
“We’ve talked to a lot of experts in recent months, and we want to bring that new information to the public,” Green told the Duluth News Tribune on Wednesday. “We are not in the decision-making stage at this point. We’re still sorting out what intervention is appropriate.”
The meetings are set for Nov. 12 in Houghton, Mich., Nov. 14 in Chelsea, Mich.; Nov. 19 in St. Paul, Minn.; and Nov. 20 in Duluth, Minn.
Eight wolves were counted in this winter’s annual survey on the 45-mile-long island in Lake Superior, down from 24 in 2009. It’s an all-time low for the study on the predator-prey relationship between the island’s wolves and moose, which has been under way for more than 50 years. Michigan Technological University researcher Rolf Peterson said the wolf numbers have always fluctuated, but they’ve dropped so low now that they may not be able to recover.
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