HOUGHTON, MICHIGAN (KMSP) - Officials with the National Park Service relocated two gray wolves from Minnesota to Isle Royale National Park in Michigan as part of a long-term project to restore the predator population on the island chain.
On Wednesday, officials released a four-year-old female wolf and five-year-old male wolf at the park. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service aircraft took the wolves to the island. They were set free in separate areas, which were away from the public areas and the two resident wolves' territory. The two new wolves are expected to join the resident wolves in the coming weeks. Park officials will monitor the wolves with GPS collars.
Currently, thousands of moose populate Isle Royale. Before this release, only two non-breeding wolves lived there. Park officials told Fox 9 they believe the wolf reintroduction plan will restore the predator-prey balance before the large moose population starts to negatively impact the island chain's ecosystem.
Before being relocated, wildlife veterinarians examined the two Minnesota wolves and deemed the wolves were healthy. The wolves came from different pack territories on the Grand Portage Indian Reservation in northeastern Minnesota.
This release marked the first phase of the relocation project to move about 20 to 30 wolves to the park over the next three to five years. By the end of this fall, the National Park Service hopes to move up to six wolves from Minnesota to Isle Royale National Park.