Michigan’s remote, rugged Isle Royale was once home to hundreds of wolves. Yet, there are only two wolves left and the two remaining are inbred, meaning that trying for a recovery with only these two wolves won’t work. Enter two new Minnesota wolves that were recently relocated to Isle Royale to kickstart a multiyear recovery effort that officials hope will snowball into at least 20 to 30 wolves over the next three years, the Associated Press reports.
Wolves play an important part of the ecological balance on the island as moose populations continue to grow. According to the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), nearly 1,500 moose inhabit the island, “throwing the health of the park out of balance and devastating the island’s vegetation” due to their heavy grazing. As goHUNT previously reported, if an adult moose eats up to 60 lbs of plants per day, imagine what could happen to Isle Royale’s ecology—and the moose population in general—if that goes unchecked. Hence, the need to reestablish a healthy wolf population on the island to keep moose numbers in balance.
The 4-year-old female and 5-year-old male were flown to Isle Royale last Wednesday from the Grand Portage Indian Reservation in Minnesota, according to the Associated Press. Both were released in different locations that did not encroach on the other older wolves’ established territory. The new wolves were out of their crates by nightfall.
Four additional wolves—most likely from Minnesota or Michigan’s Upper Peninsula—will be relocated to the island later this fall to continue the recovery efforts. As the new wolves establish territories, the park service will “evaluate the project’s success by monitoring moose kill rates, genetics, wolf-to-moose ratios, and vegetation conditions,” according to the Associated Press.