Winter Research Activities at Isle Royale National Park Postponed

Houghton, Mich – Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local officials, and to support the nation’s effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, NPS personnel and researchers will not be conducting research on Isle Royale this winter. Researchers from Michigan Technological University, State University of New York College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Minnesota, Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and the NPS planned to conduct various aspects of ecosystem research this winter as part of a long-term research program and assess the ecological impacts of restoring wolves to the ecosystem.

The remote island wilderness of Isle Royale cannot claim to be a refuge from the pandemic. Factors leading to the decision include the border closure between the United States and Canada, inadequate aviation resources to transport personnel and cargo and assist in emergency evacuation if warranted, and the strain of the pandemic on local resources. “While this will be the first time since 1959 that the winter research has not occurred, the NPS and our partners are confident in the decision to prioritize personnel health and safety,” noted Isle Royale Superintendent, Denice Swanke. Isle Royale National Park is annually closed to visitation from November 1 to April 15.

The NPS will work with partners to maximize opportunities in the upcoming summer field season to document wolf population changes through the collection of genetic material from feces, remote cameras, and other techniques not involving direct observation. However, with respect to the moose population, efficient and feasible methods are not yet available to provide a population estimate during the summer field season in 2021.

To learn more about Isle Royale’s wolves and the introduction efforts or the park, you can watch the CuriosityStream film, Return of the Wolves — CuriosityStream produced in partnership with the National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation, and read the recently published summary report at You can also visit and for additional information.