Controlled hunt needed on island
To the Journal editor:
The over-abundance of moose vs. the number of wolves on Isle Royale is a travesty. There are in excess of 2,000 moose and only 13 wolves (possibly less due to inbreeding, fighting for the alpha position or non-acceptance into the pack) to manage thousands of moose.
A letter was sent to the Michigan Outdoor News requesting an investigation into the small number of wolves vs the massive number of moose on the island. Shortly after the letter appeared, representatives began to take notice into what I call barbaric slaughters. For those who aren’t familiar with a wolf kill, if they attack the rump, a wolf will begin to eat the animal alive. It’s not uncommon for wolves to attack; wait several days while the animal bleeds to death, before they begin their feast.
Many will say this is the “cycle of life” and how nature takes care of its own, but if there’s a better, more humane way, why not? The National Park Service plan is to incorporate 30 wolves over the next 3 years. The unknowns are: How many will survive? How many moose will be born? A controlled hunt, as Rep. Johnson suggested, is not only profitable but more compassionate.
Food on the island is another concern. Because of their massive size, moose consume a lot of vegetation. During the summer months, one moose eats 30 pounds of vegetation daily. Balsam fir is winter food for the moose. Last year, Mr. Vucetich, a Michigan Tech biologist, saw “heavily moose-munched balsam fir trees, signs of the first serious over-browsing since about 1996.”
He said the numbers should level off or decrease this year or next with limited food supply (numbers would have to be huge). About 80% of cows (female moose) will give birth, each spring, even sets of twins may be born. Are new births being considered? In other words, the moose starve to death. The destruction of foliage and the ecological damage to the island is another concern. It will be immense and take years to repair.
To eliminate all of this, the NPS should agree with Rep. Johnson, have a controlled hunt with big game hunters who are willing to pay, perhaps thousands of dollars to experience a hunt such as this.
The island could remain open a week or two after tourist season.