Friday, February 14, 2014

Edison Fisheries and Peterson's Wolf Study, Isle Royale

Isle Royale continued:

After a few days of stormy weather Monday dawned clear and bright. We headed back to the Kemmer cottage to finish what we could of the boat house. It was not an easy job as the building sat on a rocky slope, and maneuvering the ladders and getting them level enough to work from was quite a chore. We ended up running out of paint before we finished.

Bob reaches up to the eaves. I worked on the green trim.

This is as far as we got the boat house. The second crew did some roof work and replaced rotted soffits and finished painting.

After lunch, four of us newbies took an hour boat ride down to the Edison Fisheries and to the Peterson's place, home of the decade's long wolf study. The Petersons have been studying the connection between the moose and wolves on the island, as controlled a study as is possible thanks to the confined nature of the island. I will not go into a lot of detail about their work, but you can visit their website/blog to learn all about it:  They are currently on the island doing their winter study, which is about the only time they can determine how many wolves are on the island, which last I heard was up to ten or eleven.

Map showing relation of Dassler cabin to the fishery and Peterson's.

It was a gorgeous, calm afternoon and we had a pleasant ride. We had to dock at the fishery as there was no room to dock at the Peterson's. We spent a little time exploring the buildings.

Edison Fisheries.

Alan chats with a Park Ranger while Liz and Annika look around.

I had to get a shot of these old motors. I grew up on a lake and I remember
there being one or two in the old boathouse.

There were some curiosities along the way, including this:

Sign on a picket fence that ringed a small area off the trail.

The Peterson's place was not really "their" place. Like all of the structures on the island it belonged to the Parks, and was known officially as the Bangsund Cabin after the family who last lived there. I love the cherry red paint and colorful window boxes.

Bangsund Cabin, headquarters of the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Study

One of the things the Petersons have done is to collect moose bones. They send several teams out every spring to bushwhack the backcountry and bring back any bones they find. The result is an impressive collection, which can be studied to determine age, health and cause of death of these huge animals.

Collection of leg bones, lower jaws to the left.

The sign says, "Yes, They grow new ones every year!"

A few of the more impressive skulls were displayed separately. The tag reads: "Found by EarthWatch volunteers SW of Wood Lake, 2001.Moderate periodontitis. BIG! - metatarsus 404 mm."

This one was out there for a while!

We had the privilege of speaking to Candy Peterson for a while--Rolf was busy working on the roof of one of the buildings. She was gracious and a wealth of information. Of course, we had brought them cookies....

We left after about an hour as we needed to get back in time for dinner. It was a remarkable experience, one I didn't think I would enjoy but ended up finding quite fascinating. During one of our rainy days I had read over the copy of the 2013 Winter Study that someone had purchased and left in the cabin, and that helped pique my interest.  Oddly enough, I would run into Rolf two more times on this trip, once on the trail with Candy and another fellow, and once on the Ranger III returning to Houghton.

Next: my last night at Dassler and a hike up to Mt. Franklin

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