HOUGHTON — A wolf that died before transport to Isle Royale National Park (IRNP) is believed to have overheated after being taken to a holding facility, the park’s superintendent said Monday.
IRNP Superintendent Phyllis Green held a teleconference Monday covering the first week of the effort to relocate up to six wolves from the Minnesota and Michigan mainland to Isle Royale this fall. Two wolves, a 4-year-old female and a 5-year-old male, were flown to the park last week and have been exploring the island since.
The park is still awaiting a diagnosis from an necropsy of the dead wolf, whose death was announced Friday, Green said. The female gray wolf had been sedated and taken to a holding facility.
In response to the death, park service officials have made adjustments in how they handle the animals and the amount of sedative they inject.
The wolves will be allowed a longer time to regain alertness and regulate themselves before being taken to the holding facility.
“The animal actually appeared to be coming out of any difficulty in the anesthesia,” Green said. “It quickly reversed its situation. Our vets did CPR, they provided oxygen for it, but they couldn’t save that individual.”
Ten or more wolves have been captured so far, Green said. Most have been released back into the wild due to health, age or gender balance reasons.
The park is ahead of the anticipated pace of one animal per week, Green said.
The two wolves brought to Isle Royale, both wearing GPS tracking collars, have made their way inland. They appeared in images from game cameras mounted above moose carcasses deposited for the wolves.
As of Monday night, the female wolf had moved at least 12 miles into the interior of the island.
Game cameras have spotted the male, although his GPS collar is not yet uploading data, which is normal for satellite monitoring startups.
The park is looking to establish a self-sustaining population of wolves on the island. The population had fallen to two aging, closely related wolves who are believed to be unable to produce viable offspring.
The nearly unchecked moose population has reached about 1,600,
Between 20-30 gray wolves will be brought to the island over the next three years.
With warmer winters, ice bridges have became rarer, reducing the likelihood of natural crossing from the mainland.
The wolves are being taken from populations in the Upper Peninsula and the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reservation. Wolves that historically populated Isle Royale likely came from Grand Portage, said Seth Moore, Grand Portage’s director of environment and biology.
Capturing wolves is being done jointly by the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and USDA Wildlife Services.
“It’s really been a collaborative, cooperative effort,” said John Hart, Minnesota district supervisor of USDA Wildlife Services. “I couldn’t be happier as to where we are now.”