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Michigan wolf brought to Isle Royale as reintroduction effort continues

A wolf is brought from Michigan to Isle Royale. Photo courtesy of National Park Service
A wolf is brought from Michigan to Isle Royale. Photo courtesy of National Park Service

Isle Royale National Park resumed its wolf translocation project this month. On Friday, Sept. 6, park staff and others successfully moved a wolf from Michigan’s mainland to the remote island on Lake Superior.  A 70-pound male wolf, between 2 and 3 years old, was captured in the Upper Peninsula and transported by amphibious aircraft to the island and released. This marks the beginning of the second year of an ongoing effort to establish a population of 20-30 wolves in the isolated island park.

This fall’s efforts continue implementation of the June 2018 decision to restore predation to the ecosystem of Isle Royale National Park.  The new Michigan wolf joins 14 other wolves on Isle Royale. A dozen wolves were translocated over the course of last fall and winter, joining two resident wolves on the island. The wolf population at Isle Royale now includes eight males and seven females.  Since last September, wolves from Minnesota, mainland Ontario and Michipicoten Island Provincial Park in Canada, and now Michigan, have been brought to Isle Royale. 

The goal for this fall’s operation is to translocate four to six wolves from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to the park. 

“We have relied on partners to access wolves for these translocation events,” Isle Royale Park Superintendent Phyllis Green said in a statement sent to WTIP. “The Michigan DNR knowledge of wolf pack activity in the Upper Peninsula is extensive and we are relying on their expertise and support from trapping to veterinary services for this fall’s operations. We are hoping that the weather and conditions hold such that we are able to achieve the goal of bringing four to six wolves from the Michigan mainland to Isle Royale.”

The National Park Service and researchers from Michigan Technological University and State University of New York are tracking the movements of the wolves around the island.  The primary goals of the project are to ensure that wolves form packs, reproduce, and act as predators on the park’s burgeoning moose population, according to the National Park Service.

Initial indications show that after just a few short months, the new wolves are starting to travel and hunt together.  A female wolf from Minnesota and two males from Michipicoten Island Provincial Park have been doing just that since April, according to the National Park Service.