Researchers looking to get better grasp of Madeline Island wildlife

(National Park Service)

MADISON, Wis. — Researchers in northern Wisconsin have placed trail cameras on Madeline Island to gather a better picture of the wildlife diversity on Lake Superior’s Apostle Islands.

Northland College natural resources professor Erik Olson and 10 of his students scouted out open areas with low human traffic in the Madeline Island Wilderness Preserve and Big Bay State Park to place 25 cameras, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

Madeline Island is the largest of the Apostle Islands and offers a different look at wildlife tracking because it has the most human interference due to roads and tourism.

“Those differences allow us to look at how wildlife would be impacted by some of the island’s characteristics. … and also how human development and road networks might also influence the wildlife ecology of these systems,” Olson said.

The research project began in fall 2016 and is an expansion of an existing project between the National Park Service and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Cameras have already detected species familiar to northern Wisconsin, such as deer, coyotes and black bears. But animals such as red foxes, gray foxes and bobcats that are found on the second largest island are so far missing from the Madeline Island data.

“Now, that doesn’t mean we won’t observe them in the future,” Olson said. “But it is interesting from our perspective to notice which species aren’t being detected on these islands relative to the ones that are present on the mainland.”

Olson hopes that the data over time can provide a more detailed look at wildlife on the islands and lead to a better understanding of the ecology of those systems.

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