The National Park Service is set to reintroduce more than two dozen wolves to Michigan's remote Isle Royale, on the western edge of Lake Superior, in an attempt to right an ecological disaster that was set off when the population was decimated by a disease brought over by a sick domestic dog in 1982, Popular Science reports. In the intervening years, the wolf population on Isle Royale has plunged from 50 to just two, setting off a chain reaction — the wolves kept the moose population down, but with no natural predators, the herbivorous ungulates have exploded in number, chewing their way through the island's balsam firs.
The moose population has grown so large that "add a few more moose and one harsh winter, and the population will starve and collapse if previous trends hold true," Popular Science writes.
Unlike other regions where predators have been reintroduced, like wolves in Yellowstone or panthers in Florida, Michigan's Isle Royale is relatively undisturbed by humans. That makes it a key location for ecological research, both prior to and after the wolf reintroduction.
"The bottom line is safely capturing and releasing wolves into very remote habitat that's difficult to access," said the park's superintendent, Phyllis Green. Read more about the process of reintroducing the wolves at Popular Science. Jeva Lange