UNITED STATES NEWS

Warm weather forces park officials to suspend Isle Royale wolf count for first time in decades

Feb 1, 2024, 2:04 PM

A stretch of unusually warm weather has forced federal officials to suspend researchers’ annual wolf-moose count in Isle Royale National Park for the first time in more than six decades.

Isle Royale is a 134,000-acre (54,200-hectare) island situated in far western Lake Superior between Grand Marias, Minnesota, and Thunder Bay, Canada. The park is a wildlife biologist’s dream – it offers a rare opportunity to observe wolves and moose acting naturally without human influence. Researchers have conducted an annual survey of the park’s wolf and moose population since 1958. It’s been going on every year except for 2021, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced scientists to cancel it.

Scientists from Michigan Tech University returned to the island this past Jan. 19, planning to survey the wolf and moose populations from the air through March, said Sarah Hoy, a Michigan Tech research assistant professor who leads the project alongside John Vucetich, a Michigan Tech forestry professor, and Rolf Peterson, a retired Michigan Tech ecology professor.

Hoy said that the National Park Services suspended the survey on Tuesday and ordered everyone off the island. She said warm temperatures have left the ice around the island unsafe for the scientists’ ski-planes to land.

“The ice on the harbor was starting to deteriorate, I guess,” Hoy said. “We lost some ice depth and a few holes and cracks were starting to appear. … Everybody had to leave. So the island’s now only occupied by wolves and moose and a bunch of critters. We’re incredibly disappointed that we’re not able to continue our work.”

Temperatures in the region have hovered above freezing since Jan. 24, about 20 degrees above average, according to the National Weather Service. The mercury hit 47 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius) in the area on Wednesday.

Hoy said helicopters aren’t an option because they’re expensive to rent and so loud they’ll disturb the wildlife, she said. The team may return to the park if temperatures drop and the ice firms up enough to support ski-planes again, she said. It’s too far to fly from the mainland to the island, complete survey circles and fly back, she said.

The team may return to the park in spring by boat, but trying to conduct the survey then will be far more difficult, Hoy said. The snow and bare branches makes tracking easy in the winter, but once the trees bloom, spotting the wolves and moose will be much more difficult, she said.

The scientist’s 2022-23 survey put the number of wolves on the island at 31, up from 28 wolves the prior year, and the number of moose at 967, down 28% from 1,346. The team attributed the decline to lower survival rates for calves, starvation and wolf predation. The scientists estimated a wolf killed 0.52 moose every month last year.

United States News

Associated Press

Texas police arrest suspect in abduction of 12-year-old girl who was found safe after 8 days

COLUMBUS, Texas (AP) — Police in Texas have arrested a man suspected in the disappearance of a girl who was missing for eight days before she was safely located. The 27-year-old Houston man was charged with evading authorities after he attempted to flee from officers on Friday, the Columbus Police Department said in social media […]

4 hours ago

FILE - A voting sign is seen near a voting center at Croft Baptist Church, Feb. 24, 2024, in Sparta...

Associated Press

A chunk of Republican primary and caucus voters say they wouldn’t vote for Trump as the GOP nominee

WASHINGTON (AP) — A small but substantial chunk of Republican primary and caucus voters say they would be so dissatisfied if Donald Trump became the party’s presidential nominee that they would not vote for him in November’s general election, according to AP VoteCast. An analysis of the data shows that many of those voters were […]

4 hours ago

Prison psychological specialist Christine Ransom, right, leads a group session for inmates, Dec. 14...

Associated Press

Prisoners with developmental disabilities face unique challenges. One facility is offering solutions

ALBION, Pa. (AP) — “You are the Lighthouse in someone’s storm,” reads the message above a mural of a sailboat bobbing on ocean waves under a cloud-studded azure sky. It’s an unexpected slogan for a prison wall. On a nearby door painted deep blue, a bright yellow Minion character offers “Ways to say hello,” lists […]

6 hours ago

FILE - Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., celebrates with his supporters af...

Associated Press

Iowa Democrats were forced to toss the caucus. They’ll quietly pick a 2024 nominee by mail instead

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — There’s a lot less fanfare for Democrats in Iowa picking their presidential nominee this year, and it’s not only because Democratic incumbent Joe Biden is in the White House. Instead of congregating for caucuses, a one-night spectacle where community members publicly signal their support for a candidate, Iowa Democrats headed […]

11 hours ago

Kylie Moreland, the Monroe County Elections Supervisor poses in her office in Bloomington, Ind., Tu...

Associated Press

An Indiana county hires yet another election supervisor, hoping she’ll stay

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana county lost its top election official nearly every other month over the last year after a longtime supervisor resigned following a counting error in the November 2022 tally. Voting advocates hope fears of a rocky election year will ease now that Monroe County has named a supervisor who is […]

11 hours ago

Christiane Keyhani, program coordinator of Hui O Ka Wai Ola, fills up the bucket to test water qual...

Associated Press

In Hawaii, coral is the foundation of life. What happened to it after the Lahaina wildfire?

Abraham “Snake” Ah Hee rides waves when the surf’s up and dives for octopus and shells when the water is calm. The lifelong Lahaina, Hawaii, resident spends so much time in the ocean that his wife jokes he needs to wet his gills. But these days Ah Hee is worried the water fronting his Maui […]

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Warm weather forces park officials to suspend Isle Royale wolf count for first time in decades