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Isle Royale plans to introduce new wolves

Michigan Tech University
This winter, surveyers for Isle Royale National Park recorded two wolves on the island.

The National Park Service is one step closer to reintroducing wolves to Isle Royale National Park. The park in Lake Superior would get 20 to 30 new wolves in the next three years.

Isle Royale once had around 50 wolves. But Park Superintendent Phyllis Green says fewer new wolves have made it to the island in recent years because Lake Superior is freezing over less. She attributes that to the warming climate. As a result, there’s been inbreeding and disease in the wolf population.

"The wolf population has slowly decreased," says Green, "and it’s down to two animals."

Now the park wants to introduce new gray timber wolves to keep the island’s moose population in check. Moose numbers have surged to around 1,300 as the wolf population has declined. Park officials are concerned moose will overbrowse vegetation, including aquatic plants, on the island.

The park service is waiting 30 days for public comment before they make the final decision.

Morgan Springer is a contributing editor and producer at Interlochen Public Radio. She previously worked for the New England News Collaborative as the host/producer of NEXT, the weekly show which aired on six public radio station in the region.