U.S. Wildlife Officials Airdrop Four Canadian Wolves Into National Park To Address Booming Moose Population

A pair of wild wolves in the forest.
Matt Cardy / Getty Images

Wildlife officials at Isle Royale National Park in Michigan have a plan to deal with the dangerously expanding moose population — some mercenaries from the north.

Officials used helicopter crews to hunt down and capture four wolves in Ontario, Canada. They then transported them to the national park in Lake Superior, hoping that they will join a small pack and cut down on the number of moose living in the park. As Fox News reported, officials captured three males and one female wolf, and sent them to join a pack of four wolves already living in the park.

Though the travel spanned hundreds of miles — and could have been traumatic to the wolves — officials said the animals handled it perfectly, and quickly started to search for the rest of the pack.

“I am… blown away by the resilience of these wolves, who within hours after undergoing capture and handling and arriving on Isle Royale, immediately got on the trail of their pack mates,” Mark Romanski, the park’s natural resources division chief, told Fox News.

The CBC reported that there are close to 1,500 moose living in the park, with the population growing dangerously high. This puts them at risk of eating all the food sources, and sparking a mass starvation.

Officials had planned to capture and transport the wolves weeks ago, but bad weather shut down the initial attempt, the report noted. Before being released on Isle Royale, the wolves were fitted with tracking collars that allowed wildlife officials to keep tabs on them — and to make sure they caught up with the existing pack. It is expected to take a few weeks for the wolves to “sort out” as the pack doubles in size, wildlife officials told the CBC.

Introducing the outside wolves is also important for the future of the pack, which is lacking in genetic diversity. These wolves can all be tracked back to a single female wolf that lived on the island 60 years ago, the CBC reported.

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Officials had already tried to introduce four wolves from Minnesota to the region last fall, but a male died of pneumonia — and one of the female wolves escaped back into Ontario. She did so by traveling on an ice bridge during the polar vortex’s appearance in the Upper Midwest.

There are already signs that the introductions have been working, as officials noted that the wolves have been spotted hunting independently of each other. Two wolves were able to successfully kill moose calves in recent weeks.