Kip’s Comments 11-19-20

Muskrat on Wapsipinicon River - Image 661448 (© Kip Ladage)


Not Even Close

Webinars via Zoom, webinars via Google Meet, webinars schnebinars… after months and months of not having actual meetings, I can honestly say I do pretty well with virtual meetings and really appreciate less windshield time, but sometimes do not look forward to watching more computer meetings. I am afraid my head is going to transition to a rectangle laptop shape after so much webinar time.       

That said, today I was actually looking forward to a webinar that was conducted early this evening. The topic of the webinar was the “Wolves of Isle Royale” presented by the resident authority on moose and wolves at Isle Royale – Rolf Peterson.   

Isle Royale is the least visited national park in the lower 48-states. Access to the park is by ferry or sea plane. Primary inhabitants of the island in Lake Superior are moose, wolves, beavers, and assorted smaller critters. Over many decades the predator/prey relationship between moose and wolves was a relatively successful delicate balance. However, due to a lack of genetic diversity, the wolves eventually suffered from inbreeding and their population dwindled to an adult male wolf and his daughter. They bred one time and produced a genetic failure that did not survive. A lack of wolf predators resulted in an exploding population of moose that overgrazed the island.        

After serious study by experts worldwide, it was decided the best management tool would be to reintroduce wolves to the island. That process began in 2018 and, based on Dr. Peterson’s presentation, has produced positive results and wolf pups. Tonight’s presentation was an overview of the moose/wolf/beaver dynamics on the island and how they have changed.       

You might wonder why the biology of Isle Royale matters to me. Over the years I have hiked on the island many times. Eventually I hiked every mile of trail on the large island (165+ miles). It was a bittersweet moment when I accomplished my goal, yet a thrill to know I had done it. Sadly, I have yet to return to hike on Isle Royale again. I will step foot on Isle Royale again, I just don’t know when.   

Isle Royale Trivia: During one of my island visits, my buddy Darrin and I met Rolf Peterson and his wife at an inland camp (I have a picture!). That may have been one of my most memorable brushes with fame!   

Today my only close contact with wilderness was a boat ride on the Wapsipinicon River. I saw no moose, wolves, or beaver. I did see a lone muskrat as shown in this picture. A muskrat on the Wapsie is no comparison to a backpacking trip on Isle Royale. For now though, I am satisfied.

Muskrat on Wapsipinicon River - Image 661448 (© Kip Ladage)

Muskrat on Wapsipinicon River – Image 661448 (© Kip Ladage)


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