Four Canadian wolves were captured and air-dropped on Lake Superior's Isle Royale National Park in Michigan – effectively doubling the pack’s current numbers – as part of an effort to rebuild the dwindling wolf population and help control the moose population, officials said Monday.
Helicopter crews fired net guns to capture the wolves, three males and one female, in Ontario last week, the National Park Service said. The wolves were sedated and examined by veterinarians before being transported to the U.S.
"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," said Mark Romanski, the park's natural resources division chief.
The wolves are being reintroduced to the island to help control the moose population, estimated to be near 1,500. If the moose herd is not kept in check, the animals will continue overeating the island’s shrubs and trees and increase their chances of mass starvation, CBC reported.
The arrival of the Canadian wolves boosted the park's wolf total to eight – four males and four females – including the last two survivors of a dwindling population that had occupied the park for about 70 years. Four wolves from Minnesota were brought to the park last fall, but one died and another left for the mainland across an ice bridge formed during February’s polar vortex, FOX9 Minneapolis reported.
The National Park Service hopes to take 20 to 30 wolves to Isle Royale over the next several years.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.