In Montana, Glacier National Park is going through some mighty big changes. Over the past 23 years, a study by the U.S. Geological Society has been measuring the decrease of glacial mass.
Our country’s national park system allows for the conservation of flora and fauna while also providing sanctuaries where people can visit and enjoy the splendor of Mother Nature’s handiwork. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement that has operated for decades to both protect and educate.
On one occasion, Holtorf was alone at the Mana Pools national park in Zimbabwe while Christine visited her son in Germany. Lying in swimming trunks on high ground above Zambezi river, enjoying the view of hippos and crocodiles below, he turned to find an elephant only a few metres away.
Now, it’s important to remember that Glacier National Park wasn’t named because of the glaciers IN the park, but rather because of the glaciers that FORMED the park (learn more about ). Still, that doesn’t change the fact that is changing at a rapid clip.
The moose population was large, due to a lack of predators; but wolves changed the balance, eating them with impunity. Back in the mid 1900s, wolves roamed back and forth from Canada to the island freely. However, due to Climate Change, the ice bridge is no more and the wolves are isolated on the island. This has resulted in inbreeding. The inbreeding has led to a sharp decline in the wolf population, causing alarm in the National Park Service.
I don’t think there is a perfect answer. I usually feel like the natural order of things should be left alone but when human interference causes big changes, it’s hard to not step in. How sad will it be to have no glaciers in Glacier National Park? We have to do what we can to slow down the processes that lead to their decline. The disappearing wolves in Isle Royale breaks my heart. Their population suffered a huge blow when a visitor arrived on a private boat with a dog infected with canine parvovirus. Combined with inbreeding, their population will not be able to be sustained. I can’t imagine Isle Royale without wolves and feel like they should be reintroduced. Without a predator, the moose population would suffer as well as there simply is not enough space and food for a population with unchecked growth. Hopefully the experts in the wolf project on Isle Royale will guide reintroduction if and when it takes place.
But if we think we have the right to separate moose and wolves like a referee at a boxing match, then we need to reexamine our historically-defined relationship with the wilderness of national parks.
It would be so sad to not have glaciers in Glacier. But remember: Glacier isn’t named Glacier National Park because of the existing glaciers, but rather because glaciers formed the park.
In Glacier National Park, climate change is forcing the migration of animals, but they are adapting naturally. We can’t play God, especially with a park system that features “earth and its community of life…untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain,” according to our own federal law.
Perry Rosenbloom is the founder of Glacier National Park Travel Guide. He started the site in 2008 after spending 2 summers working in Glacier. Outside of visitor contributions, he writes every single article based off of his unique experiences and knowledge of Glacier. Learn more about me .