Reilly Center Forum - Michael Nelson. "Ecology, Ethics, Policy, and the Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale"

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Location: 131 Decio

"Ecology, Ethics, Policy, and the Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale"

Isle Royale in Lake Superior, North America, is home to the longest continuous study of a predator-prey system in the world.  Currently in the midst of its 55th year, ecologists are learning how wolves and moose interact in this single-predator, single-prey system.  But this isn't just about long-term ecological science.  The Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project team also includes geneticists, social scientists, film makers, and one bewildered philosopher.  The project has also had important implications for, and direct impact upon, our policies about wolves.  Finally, the project offers an example of efforts to understand something about the human relationship with nature that lies at the edges or fusions of our academic disciplines.

Michael P. Nelson, a philosopher and environmental ethicist, is the co-editor of Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril with Kathleen Dean Moore and has performed extensive research on the wolves and moose on Isle Royale of Lake Superior. For the former project, Moore and Dean have compiled letters responding to the question: “Do we have a moral obligation to take action to protect the future of a planet in peril?” The  latter project deals with the isolated wolf and moose communities on Isle Royale, including the genetic constitution of the wolves and ethical dimensions of whether or not to introduce new wolves.