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By Mariah Powell
Isle Royale could be down to its last wolf, but all hope is not yet lost.
After several years of research, the National Park Service is close to releasing their final plan for Isle Royale’s wolf population.
“Right now the alternative that is going forward as the prefered is the same one that we identified in the plan last year and that is to introduce wolves in a short time period: 20 to 30 wolves over about a three year time period in order to establish a self-sustaining population on the island,” said National Park Service public information officer said Liz Valencia.
The decision can’t come soon enough for researchers. The wolf population dwindled down to two in the past years. Scientists have only seen signs of one wolf so far this winter.
“Long-term of course the wolves and other predators are responsible for shaping the evolution of moose and other prey and so the park service has a commitment to think long term, really long term,” said Michigan Tech research professor Rolf Peterson.
Low wolf populations lead to an overpopulation of moose on Isle Royale. Signs of deforestation from the moose are already showing.
“The factors that we looked at were the moose population, the island, the vegetation on the island, the potential change over time if we didn’t introduce wolves. All of those factors together lead us to this being the preferred alternative,” said Valencia.
The final plan should be released to the public by January. Wolves will be relocated to the island from the Great Lakes Region in late 2018 or 2019.