Wolf recently taken to Isle Royale National Park dies

On Oct. 4, staff carries a crated wolf during a translocation effort on Isle Royale National Park. (NPS/Liz Valencia)

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A gray wolf relocated this fall from the Minnesota mainland to Isle Royale National Park has died.

The male wolf was among four taken to the Lake Superior island park from the Grand Portage Chippewa reservation. It’s part of a multi-year effort to rebuild the Isle Royale wolf population, which has fallen sharply in recent years.

Officials said Tuesday that the male wolf’s collar had been sending false mortality signals since it was released on the island, despite evidence the animal was alive and on the move. But late last month, the collar indicated the wolf was no longer roaming. Crews tracked him down and found his body. The cause of death wasn’t immediately clear. A necropsy was planned.

Officials say the other three relocated wolves are doing well. A fifth gray wolf captured in Minnesota for relocation to the park had died after being trapped, sedated and driven to a holding facility for a medical exam.

The goal for this fall is to translocate up to six wolves from the Minnesota and Michigan mainland to the park. This is the first phase of a three- to five-year effort to relocate up to 20 to 30 wolves to the isolated island park. 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 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.

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