An effort to relocate seven gray wolves from Michipicoten Island to Isle Royale over the weekend was a success.
“We are honored to have played a role in this important operation,” said Rob Schultz, the executive director of the International Wolf Center.
Three wolves were captured and moved Friday by teams of professionals and on Saturday, another four were moved.
“They were long days, but we had a really wonderful result,” Isle Royale National Park superintendent Phyllis Green said. “We were coordinating five aircraft and seven wolves, arriving independently. It was very intense.”
It is believed that a 2-year-old female that was moved from Michipicoten to Isle Royale may be pregnant. If she were to give birth on Isle Royale this spring, those would be the first pups born on the island since 2014, according to Rolf Peterson, the lead researcher studying wolves and moose on the island.
The four males that were captured on Michipicoten were close to healthy weights, but the three females weighed between 50 and 60 pounds, far below what is considered healthy. The low female weights are due to the fact that the wolves on Michipicoten had run out of prey.
Meanwhile, Isle Royale is populated by more than 1,600 moose, which is far above what biologists think is viable for the island to sustain. Too many moose on Isle Royale will lead to the overconsumption of vegetation, eventually causing severe damage to the the island’s ecosystem and raising concerns that the moose population may collapse.
By reintroducing wolves to the island, the moose will again have a natural predator to keep their population at sustainable levels.