An unprecedented weather interruption of the Isle Royale Wolf and Moose Survey

The Isle Royale Wolf and Moose team from Michigan Tech University has decided to halt the remaining part of their winter survey. As reported by the Associated Press last Friday, the research team had to return from the island last week following an order from the National Park Service (NPS).  The scientists’ ski-planes are unable to land on the island due to the ice being rendered unsafe by the warm temperatures.

It’s unusual for the park’s annual wolf and moose population survey to be interrupted. The survey has been conducted consistently since 1958, with the only exception being 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The researchers from Michigan Tech confirmed the worsening conditions around the harbor and expressed their disappointment at having to terminate the study prematurely. They are hopeful that a drop in temperatures will solidify the ice enough for the planes to land. 

If the situation doesn’t improve, the team may contemplate returning in the spring. However, the survey becomes notably more difficult with the arrival of the season and the blossoming of trees, which makes tracking the wolves and moose a significant challenge. In the meantime, the team is unable to carry out the survey from the mainland as the ski planes lack the range to fly to the island, survey the areas, and return in a single trip.

This report was prepared by ABC 10 News Reporter Selena Potila and Keweenaw Bureau Reporter Thomas Fournier