With the partial federal shutdown rounding out its third week, federally-funded programs and studies are on pause. One is the annual Isle Royale wolf and moose count, which is based out of Michigan Technological University and the longest-running predator-prey study. Isle Royale, an island in Lake Superior 56 miles from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is home to nearly 1,500 moose and only a handful of wolves—two of which were just recently relocated from Minnesota to help manage the overabundant moose population.
Now, according to the Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale Facebook page, the annual count is stopped in its tracks. A recent post to the page stated the following: “It is our present understanding that the 61st Winter Study of Wolves and Moose in Isle Royale National Park will not be allowed during the partial shutdown of the Federal government,” MLive.com reports.
As goHUNT previously reported, Isle Royale’s ecosystem is out of balance as wolves have helped keep moose numbers in check. An adult moose can eat 60 lbs of plants per day, which can drastically alter the island’s ecology. While wolves have historically kept moose populations sustainable, recent years have found it difficult for wolves to cross over to the island via ice and, as a result, only two inbred wolves remained on the island. The recent Minnesota relocation was only the first step in wolf recovery efforts on Isle Royale.
Researchers had planned to use the winter survey, which is normally done by plane, to gather more information on the wolves, according MLive.com. Now, like other federally-funded programs, whether it will happen depends on how long the shutdown continues.