Skip to main content

Boreal Community Media

Isle Royale set record for visitors in 2018

Jun 28, 2019 03:07PM ● By Editor

The Isle Royale National Park’s Ranger III is one of four ferries that transfer visitors to and from the island. The Ranger III has been in that service for more than 60 years.  Photo:  Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette

By Graham Jaehnig of the Mining Gazette - June 27, 2019

HOUGHTON — Isle Royale may have set a record for the number of people to visit during the 2018 season, and this year is on a par with last season, said Derrick Jaeger of the Isle Royale National Park. 

“I don’t have the numbers,” he said, “but I’m pretty sure we set an annual record for visitation last year, and if that holds up, we’re going to be on par with that again, and we are doing that so far.”

Jaeger said the total number of people visiting the island in 2018 was approximately 18,000, which was increase over the past number of years. 

The number of visitors has no effect on the moose and wolf populations, due largely to managing the human population density in certain areas on the island.

“We are able to do that by controlling how many nights people can stay at certain campgrounds within certain areas of the park,” said Jaeger, “so, if we know there’s a higher wolf density or a higher moose density in an area, we might tweak how long people can stay in that area to try to keep the population in those areas down.”

Jaeger said that wolves do not pose a threat to humans on the island, but if any threat were to be posed, it would probably come from some of the moose.

Wolves, for the most part, are curious about people, he said, but are actually quite shy and are afraid of people, which is why so few people in the park actually see them.

“This time of year, female moose with calves is probably going to be one of the more dangerous animals on the island you’d come in contact with — super protective mothers,”

The Ranger III in Houghton and the Isle Royale Queen IV in Copper Harbor are not the only two ferries that transport visitors to and from the island, Jaeger said.

The other ferry boats transporting people to the island are out of Grand Marais, Minnesota, said Jaeger, the Voyageur II and the Sea Hunter. which go to the Windigo side of the island. The sea plane company that flies from Portage Lake also flies sea planes out of Grand Marais.

Of those vessels, the Ranger III is the only one owned, operated, or under the authority of National Park, Jaeger said. The two out of Grand Marais, and Isle Royale Queen in Copper Harbor are privately owned, as are the sea planes. The Park Service does not set limits on the numbers of people the private companies transport to or from the island. In fact, the Park Service sets no limit of the number of people visiting the island during a season.

“It is kind of artificially controlled by the number of people who can take the ferries to the island,” said Jaeger,” because the sea planes and the ferry boats can only accommodate so many people per trip. Those factors control the number of people going to the island, but there is no designated limit on the number of people who can visit the island at any given time.

To read the original article and see related reporting, follow this link to The Daily Mining Gazette web site.
Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here