Isle Royale National Park

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Isle Royale National Park is a U.S. National Park in the state of Michigan. Isle Royale, the largest island in Lake Superior, is over 45 miles (72 km) in length and 9 miles (14 km) wide at its widest point.[1] The park is made of Isle Royale itself and approximately 400 smaller islands, along with any submerged lands within 4.5 miles (7.24 km) of the surrounding islands (16USC408g).[2] Isle Royale National Park was established on April 3, 1940, was designated as a Wilderness Area in 1976, and was made an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980. It is a relatively small national park at 894 square miles (2,314 km²), with only 209 square miles (542 km²) above water. At the U.S.-Canada border, it will meet the borders of the future Canadian Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area.


Human history

The island was once the site of a fishing industry, native copper mining and a resort community. The fishing industry continues at Edisen Fishery. Because numerous small islands surround Isle Royale, ships were once guided through the area by lighthouses at Passage Island, Rock Harbor, Rock of Ages, and Isle Royale Lighthouse on Menagerie Island. Within the waters of Isle Royale National Park are several shipwrecks. The area’s notoriously harsh weather, dramatic underwater topography, the island’s central location on historic shipping routes, and the cold, fresh water have culminated in largely intact, well preserved wrecks throughout the park. These were documented in the 1980s, with follow up occurring in 2009, by the National Park Service Submerged Resources Center.

Natural history


Isle Royale National Park is known for its wolf and moose populations which are studied by scientists investigating predator-prey relationships in a closed environment. This is made easier because Isle Royale has been colonized by roughly just one third of the mainland mammal species, due to it being so remote.[3] In addition, the environment is unique in that it is the only known place where wolves and moose coexist without the presence of bears [4] There are usually around 25 wolves and 1000 moose on the island, but the numbers change greatly year to year. In rare years with very hard winters, animals can travel over the frozen lake from the Canadian mainland. To protect the wolves from canine diseases, dogs are not allowed in any part of the park, including the adjacent waters. In the 2006-2007 winter, 385 moose were counted, as well as 21 wolves, in three packs. In spring 2008, 23 wolves and approximately 650 moose were counted [5]

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