Isle Royale National Park is a remote island in Lake Superior where only two wolves remain, the lowest population in more than 50 years. Scientists believe there is little chance for a natural recovery in the population. As top predator, wolves play a critical role in the health of the island ecosystem.
UPDATE: March 2019
Eleven new wolves now call Isle Royale home, bringing the total to fifteen at the park! NPS partnered with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to transport seven males and four females from Ontario’s mainland as well as Michipicoten Island in late February and mid-March. These new wolves were in jeopardy as their food sources were running out on the Canadian island. One of the new females is also believed to be pregnant. Sadly, just two remain of the original four brought over in fall 2018 - one male died of natural causes and one female departed the island via an ice bridge during the polar vortex. But the rest of the wolves appear to be adjusting to their new home quite well. The most recent arrivals make this an international effort and set the island’s wolves on a path of recovery. Check out one of the newest arrivals stepping foot on the island and visit the NPS website for regular photos, videos and other updates about the wolf relocations.
UPDATE: October 2018
The first new wolves have arrived at Isle Royale National Park! The National Park Service has successfully relocated four wolves from Minnesota to the park so far. The first two wolves were released at the park on September 26, 2018 (one male and one female) and another two females were released in early October. The goal is to bring up to six to the park in fall 2018, with a long-term goal of 20-30 over three years. Visit the NPS website for regular photos, videos and other updates about the wolf relocations.
The National Park Service is bringing new wolves to Isle Royale National Park. After extensive environmental analysis and input from scientists to determine the best approach, the Park Service released a Record of Decision on June 7, 2018 finalizing its long-awaited wolf management plan. The plan calls for the introduction of 20-30 wolves over a three-to-five-year period, beginning as soon as late September 2018.
NPCA has long believed that wolves are critical to maintaining a healthy landscape at Isle Royale National Park. We support this plan that will ensure this iconic species won’t disappear from the park.
The wolf introduction plan comes at a critical time. The 2018 winter study, led by researchers from Michigan Technological University, confirmed that just two wolves remain on the island and there is no hope that this pair will successfully breed. The nearly 1,500 moose at Isle Royale may double in population over the next several years, throwing the health of the park out of balance and devastating the island’s vegetation. Now is the time to restore this top predator and bring balance back to Isle Royale National Park.
We look forward to once again hearing the wolves’ unmistakable howls:
Isle Royale National Park is a remote island in Lake Superior that is 99 percent federally designated wilderness. It is home to the longest predator-prey study in the world, marking its 60th year in 2018, focused on the interplay between the island’s most famous residents, its wolves and moose.
Right now there are only two wolves left on the island that are inbred, making a natural recovery unlikely.
Reason for the Decline
Wolves served as effective predators for decades, but over the years many factors reduced the population, and now warming temperatures have compromised the animals’ only route on and off the island.
Historically, ice bridges formed on Lake Superior to the mainland for more than 50 days a year, allowing wolves ample time to migrate. Over the last 20 years, these bridges have been far less common and consistent, effectively stranding the two last wolves at Isle Royale and preventing newcomers.
A Park Without Wolves?
Wolves play a critical role as the top predator on the island, and their dwindling numbers have resulted in a rising moose population. In the absence of a predator, the moose population is growing and may double in the next four to five years, throwing the ecosystem out of balance as they devastate the island’s vegetation, eliminating their food source and impacting other native species.
Bringing new wolves to Isle Royale is the best method for protecting the long-term survival of the island’s wildlife while supporting a balanced and sustainable ecosystem at the park.
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