Traditionally, ice bridges would have fashioned virtually each winter, giving each wolves and caribou freedom to maneuver round, mentioned Gordon Eason, a retired biologist who labored with the ministry for 3 many years. However due to international warming, he mentioned, these bridges now type solely sometimes, trapping the caribou on islands, along with their predators.
“It’s like being confined in a jail cell with somebody who’s attempting to homicide you,” Mr. Eason mentioned.
Caribou-transplant operations aren’t unheard-of on Lake Superior. Within the early 1980s, after a lighthouse keeper seen the tracks of a lone bull who had crossed an ice bridge to Michipicoten Island, Mr. Eason and his colleagues hauled seven females (and an additional male) to the island to affix him, within the hopes of making a brand new group.
It labored — not less than for just a few many years.
Dr. Rodgers and a colleague, Brent Patterson, a authorities analysis scientist and adjunct professor at Trent College in Ontario, mentioned they have been optimistic in regards to the destiny of Michipicoten Island’s caribou. However different scientists feared they might be killed by wolves within the subsequent few weeks. Serge Couturier, a biologist who has been learning caribou for 34 years, mentioned it was “seemingly” that wolves would “take the previous few caribou earlier than the tip of the snow interval.”
Mr. Eason, who led the unique caribou relocation to Michipicoten Island, is amongst these calling for the ministry to do extra to avoid wasting Lake Superior’s caribou. “We’ve got to grow to be that agent of immigration as an alternative of simply pure immigration occurring,” he mentioned.
“I assume that’s one of many prices of managing threatened species or endangered species,” he added. “You must intervene in a part of the cycle that isn’t functioning anymore.”
The relocation comes after months of complaints from individuals who stay close by on Lake Superior, who’ve lengthy voiced issues in regards to the island’s caribou and at one level even thought of culling the wolves themselves.
“We wished to maintain the caribou on Michipicoten; it’s an unbelievable habitat, they usually’ve thrived there,” mentioned Leo Lepiano, the lands and sources coordinator for the Michipicoten First Nation, a gaggle representing the native group. Now, some individuals are calling for the ministry to maneuver the remaining Michipicoten caribou to different islands as “backup” populations.
“Because it stands now, the survival of the Lake Superior caribou might be completely depending on the animals on the Slate Islands,” Mr. Lepiano, Mr. Eason and others wrote in a letter despatched to the ministry on Monday. Mr. Lepiano mentioned he was involved one other ice bridge may type from the mainland to the Slate Islands.
“It’s potential that wolves may make it over to the Slate Islands, and it could solely take them a few weeks to eat via the caribou,” he mentioned. “It’s type of silly to place all of your eggs in a single basket.”