The National Park System with wilderness designations are the gold standard for America’s protected habitats. They are the lands set aside for flora and fauna to thrive, unencumbered by humans, industry or development.
That’s why we are aghast at a proposal to open the Isle Royale National Park in Michigan, one of the largest untouched parcels in the state, to a moose hunt.
Some Michigan lawmakers are pushing for a resolution before the state house supporting a moose tag hunt lottery. If approved, the resolution would be sent to the National Parks Service, Michigan’s congressional delegation, the state’s governor and its department of natural resources.
While hunting is allowed in some national preserves and units managed by NPS, hunting is not generally allowed in national parks. However, the agency does have the authority to use skilled volunteers to kill wildlife populations if it is determined appropriate.
Opening up 134,000 acres of this beautiful wilderness in Michigan to a moose hunt is the antithesis of the mission of the parks. Pro-hunting supporters say the moose population is rapidly rising, from 515 to 2,060 in the absence of their natural predators, wolves, which have had a tough time surviving. But it’s not human’s business to get involved in how many wild animals inhabit our parks. That’s the point of setting them aside to remain wild.
Hunting is already allowed in many national preserves, historic parks, monuments, seashores, lakes and rivers and there’s been a concerted effort on the part of the Trump administration to open up more federal lands to hunting. Yet, the number of hunters in the nation is declining while wildlife watching is on the rise.
In Michigan, the number of paid hunting license holders declined from 1.1 million in 1993 to 706,101 in 2018. Just 20 percent of the population participated in hunting and fishing activities in the state in 2011 while almost 40 percent participated in wildlife watching activities.
Moose have been a protected species in Michigan since the 1800s. Michigan officials need to let parks be parks and not allow a small percentage of hunters to get hold of the wildlife who are supposed to live hassle free.
If you live in Michigan, contact your state representatives and tell them to vote against House Resolution No. 154. You can find your rep here: