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Moosewatch

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Ecological Studies of Wolves on Isle Royale: Annual report 2018-2019 / Used with permission

Moose populations are still going wild on Isle Royale, but wildlife managers hope moving some additional wolves in will help restore some balance.

Michigan Technological University’s latest annual winter study of the animals’ Isle Royale populations found there are now more than 2,000 moose there, in comparison to just 15 wolves, most of them recent transplants via human intervention.

Rolf Peterson outside Bangsund Cabin on Isle Royale.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

All across North America, something is happening to the moose.

From British Columbia to New Hampshire, moose populations are thinning out, and no one has been able to point to a good, clear reason why.

For the status of moose here in Michigan, we turned to Rolf Peterson, Professor at Michigan Technological University. He joined us from Houghton.

*Listen to the interview above.

EPA.gov

MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) - Poor weather is making it hard for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to count the number of moose in the Upper Peninsula.

The DNR surveys the moose population every two years. The census is based on the number of animals spotted by crews flying over prime moose range in Baraga, Iron and Marquette counties.

It's typically done in January, when the ground is covered with snow. That makes it easier to see the animals.

Moosewatch volunteers mark an antler
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Wolves and moose are at the heart of the world’s longest running study of a predator and its prey.  The drama unfolds on Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior.

But it’s a big island, almost entirely wilderness.

The researchers from Michigan Tech say they can’t cover all that ground alone. 

So they have a program called Moosewatch.  It’s a backcountry expedition where you pay to help out with the wolf-moose study.  But be warned: it’s no easy little walk in the woods.

"We’re going to trash through the understory here for a third to half of a mile and see if we can find some dead moose."

That’s Jeff Holden. He’s a Moosewatch group leader, in charge of a group of six (himself plus five volunteers).  We’re going to push our way into the thick forest.