Despite setbacks wolf program beneficial

Officials are taking in stride news that one of the wolves relocated to Isle Royale National Park last year has crossed the ice bridge from the remote island and returned to the mainland where it had been captured only months ago.

The female was among four wolves placed on the island in an attempt to repopulate the species, which was down to just two animals last year, neither of which could breed with the other, being father and daughter.

Park superintendent Phyllis Green told the Associated Press that such setbacks weren’t unexpected and wouldn’t thwart the operation.

“When we made the decision to restore the predator-prey relationship, we knew we would have to respectfully work with whatever curves nature threw at us, whether it’s adverse weather or wolves working out where they choose to fit on the landscape,” she said in a AP story on the issue. “We’re going to continue the project for the next three years, a window we feel affords us the opportunity for successful restoration.”

The wolves are needed on the island to curb overpopulation by moose, officials have said.

The female that returned to the mainland was among animals relocated from the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. GPS data was used to confirm the development, noting that the wolf was somewhere near the border between northeastern Minnesota and the Canadian province of Ontario.

AP reported the National Park Service hopes to move 20 to 30 wolves to Isle Royale over several years, but one wolf captured for movement to the park died in captivity while another perished a month after it arrived.

These modest hiccups aside, we’ve supported this effort from the beginning and continue to do so.

It just might take a bit of extra effort to head off Mother Nature until the species takes hold on the island.

— The Mining Journal (Marquette)