Ontario and Michigan Partner in International Effort to Relocate Wolves to Isle Royale

Photo by NPS - Jim Peaco. Wolf #3 leaving her crate on Oct.2. 
Photo by NPS - Jim Peaco. Wolf #3 leaving her crate on Oct.2. 

Credit: USFWS/Courtney Celley The male wolf in the holding facility before transport.
Credit: USFWS/Courtney Celley
The male wolf in the holding facility before transport.

THUNDER BAY – The National Park Service will be relocating wolves from Ontario to Isle Royale this winter.  Isle Royale and their partners successfully relocated 4 wolves from Minnesota to the park this fall in the first phase of an effort to restore predator-prey dynamics to the island ecosystem.  The support and assistance of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Ontario Premier Doug Ford made the next phase of the Isle Royale wolf translocation project possible.

“Ontario and Michigan have a long history of friendship, an abundance of natural beauty and a proud tradition of working together to conserve our natural ecosystems,” said Ford. “We all have an important role to play in protecting the environment and we’re happy to do our part to help Michigan’s wildlife thrive.”

Wolves play a critical role in managing the moose population in Isle Royale National Park, preventing overgrazing of vegetation and sustaining the ecosystem dynamics. With very few wolves remaining at Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park and natural population recovery unlikely, Ontario has agreed to move several Ontario wolves during the winter months.

“Michigan is proud to be part of this international effort to return a viable wolf population to Isle Royale, and we appreciate the partnership provided by Premier Ford in the effort,” Gov. Rick Snyder said. “This project will help the National Park Service restore ecological balance to the island park and preserve this wild and special place for generations to come.”

In addition, Isle Royale Park Superintendent Phyllis Green stated, “The National Park Service appreciates the support of Premier Ford and Governor Snyder in helping restore predator-prey dynamics to Isle Royale National Park’s ecosystem. In addition to individual wolves from Minnesota and Michigan, bringing Ontario wolves to the park provides the best mix of genetic sources for the reintroduced wolf population. This collaborative effort will help ensure the start of a robust population of wolves on Isle Royale.”

“We greatly appreciate the efforts of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to facilitate this project and thank Premier Ford and Minister Jeff Yurek for their decision to provide Ontario wolves,” said Isle Royale Superintendent, Phyllis Green.   “We look forward to working with the professionals from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.”

Several wolves will be captured during the winter months and moved from Ontario to the isolated island park.   The wolves from Ontario will play a critical role in restoring a robust wolf population at Isle Royale that functions as an apex predator.

The winter effort is part of a three- to five-year plan to relocate 20 to 30 wolves to Isle Royale.

Researchers recommended this number of wolves to establish adequate genetic variability to help accomplish the overall goal of restoring predation as a key part of the ecosystem on the island.  The NPS along with its partners plans to monitor ecological conditions and other factors, such as predation rates, genetics, moose-wolf ratios, and terrestrial and aquatic vegetation impacts to evaluate project success.  Along with the state of Michigan and the province of Ontario, the NPS is collaborating with the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources,  U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, U.S. Geological Survey, University of Minnesota, and personnel from multiple NPS units.