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Federal shutdown could stall efforts to bring new wolves to Isle Royale

Michigan Tech University

After sixty years, the winter study on Isle Royale has been put on hold because of the federal government shutdown. 

Researchers at Michigan Tech have been conducting a wolf and moose study on Isle Royale, monitoring the health of the ecosystem. Rolf Peterson is one of the study’s authors, he says it has been put on hold. 

“Taken in concert with everything else going on it’s just one little piece of science," says Peterson. "But it represents a tremendous loss of public and private resources. Just a total waste.”

Peterson says the winter study was especially important this year given the introduction of new wolves to the island. Park officials have brought four wolves to the island so far — the only male in that group died in November. Peterson says the park hoped to bring more wolves to the island this winter. 

“Wolves only mate once a year and that’s only in February so an entire year of potential reproduction could be lost if that effort doesn’t go ahead,” he says.

The winter study was supposed to be the first chance researchers would have to check on the wolves. Peterson says if the shutdown lasts longer than seven weeks, the study might not happen.