The superintendent of Isle Royale National Park says the wolf relocation project will move forward, despite the death of one of the four new wolves.
Isle Royale National Park Superintendent Phyllis Green was the keynote speaker at the National Parks Conservation Association annual National Parks Champions Luncheon.
One male and three female wolves were relocated to the island in Lake Superior this fall. The 5-year-old male wolf died in October.
Since the wolves arrived on the island, park biologists have been tracking them using GPS technology, which allows daily monitoring of movement. Green said the male wolf’s body was recovered. There was no obvious cause of death. A necropsy is being performed to figure out why he died.
Green told the luncheon crowd that despite the wolf dying, the project will go on because wolves will keep the Isle Royale ecosystem healthy and keep the moose herd healthy.
“And we need to restore the predator-prey dynamic that’s out there,” said Green. “Basically the moose herd is evolving on its own, it’s on an increase, and our ability to put wolves back on the island will help restore that predator-prey relationship.”
“Well you know, as we saw in Yellowstone and certainly others places where there are viable wolf populations, it really creates a balance in the ecosystem,” said Theresa Piernow, president and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association. “It’s really critical that we continue to look at places where wolves have been and continue to make sure that we continue to keep those populations up for the viability of the entire park.”
According to Piernow, 330 million people visit America’s national parks every year.
“Our national parks are some of the few places in the world where you can go and see natural populations of wildlife that are thriving,” she said.
But, she said, when one species takes over it can really have a negative impact on all wildlife.
Green said starting in January, the National Park Service and its partners will use helicopters to move four to six male wolves from Michipicoten Island in Lake Superior to Isle Royale. That will help establish wolf packs and get breeding started.