Before the National Park Service began its wolf relocation project last fall, the last two wolves to call Isle Royale home were at risk of vanishing from the island altogether, along with the island’s ongoing wolf-moose study that began nearly 60 years ago.
The wolf relocation project is a part of a planned “genetic rescue” of Isle Royale’s dwindling wolf population. Scientists working on the island’s wolf-moose study had been advocating for relocating wolves to the island for years. They believe that a genetic rescue is the only option for keeping the species going and allow the unique ecological study to continue.
The wolf relocation project’s goal is to provide much-needed genetic diversity for the island’s wolves. Additional wolves will help restore the predator-prey balance on the island between wolves and moose.
Translocating wolves, however, is easier said than successfully achieved. Two wolves died last fall since their initial capture on the mainland. A female died upon capture before making it to the island, and a male was found dead on the island just weeks after his release there. Another female left the island during the coldest days of the season via an ice bridge that formed between island and Canada.
Members of the wolf relocation project hope the newest relocated wolves, three males and a female released last week, will fare better in their new home. Only time will tell. In the meantime, follow Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale for updates.