Isle Royale’s wildlife, especially the moose and wolf populations, have been a draw for many naturalists and tourists alike. Populations for both animals have fluctuated rather dramatically over the decades. Moose, which numbered more than a 1,000 in 2002, have plummeted to less than 400, mainly due to increasingly warm summers, which have caused the moose to eat less and fatal ticks to thrive.
Still, hikers have a decent chance of spotting the 1,000-pound mammals, which often feed in ponds and lowlands or along inland lakeshores. Hidden Lake, across Tobin Harbor south of Lookout Louise, is an exceptionally good spot, since moose have a taste for its mineral licks. If you’re lucky enough to come upon a moose, give it very, very wide berth. Although they look cartoonish and friendly, moose can be exceptionally dangerous if approached too closely—especially cows with calves or males during the fall rutting season—capable of inflicting lethal blows with their hooves.
The wolf population, too, has dwindled, in part because of the hot summers and the lessening of their food supply. The wolves, which numbered around 21 in 2007, tend to hide out in the remote southwestern corner of the island. Only the rare backpacker ever spots one of the shy and stealthy creatures, and many a wolf howl heard at night is probably the haunting call of a loon. But the notion that wolves are there, somewhere—perhaps even watching from deep in the forest—is compelling enough for most, especially those lucky enough to spot a paw print across the trail.
by Laura Martone from Moon Michigan, 3rd Edition, © Avalon Travel