4 to 6 more wolves facing prey shortage to be relocated to Isle Royale

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(Photo credit: NPS / Jim Peaco) 

Two conservation groups are moving urgently to move four to six wolves to Isle Royale National Park on Lake Superior this weekend.

The National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation and the International Wolf Center are coordinating the effort after the wolves, currently located on Michipicoten Island in northern Lake Superior, no longer have any prey.

Groups have relocated wolves from Canada and mainland Minnesota to the island in the past. 

The wolves prey on caribou, which no longer exist on Michipicoten Island. Now, officials are moving quickly to relocate the wolves. Previous attempts to relocate the wolves were delayed by bad weather, a lack of funding and the government shutdown.

MORE: Wolf Week: Wolves to be reintroduced on Lake Superior's Isle Royale

On Isle Royale, the groups say the wolves will have abundant prey in the form of more than 1,600 moose they say are threatening the ecosystem there.

"On Michipicoten, nature's lessons can be cruel and starvation is one of them,” said Sona Mehring, the chair of the Foundation. “For the remaining wolves on Michipicoten, that will be their fate unless we help move them to Isle Royale National Park, where their hunting skills and genetics can add value to establishing a new population of wolves on Isle Royale.”

“We’re especially proud of the fact that the International Wolf Center is helping to save the lives of a small pack of wolves on Michipicoten Island,” said the Center’s Executive Director Rob Schultz. “Since all of the caribou have been removed from Michipicoten, there’s nothing left for the wolves there to eat this winter and there is a real threat of starvation.”

The relocation is expected to take four days beginning Friday or Saturday and will cost an estimated $100,000.

Right now, the two groups have raised a total of $75,000 and have launched a GoFuneMe campaign to raise the final $25,000.

"As we discussed this project, we found many people who supported seeing the forests of Isle Royale remaining healthy,” Mehring said. “We are close to realizing the goal of providing another capture opportunity to move these iconic wolves to an island that needs them in its ecosystem.”

This story was reported from Minneapolis.