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Female wolf leaves Isle Royale across ice

A female wolf, trapped on the Grand Portage Chippewa Reservation this week, walks out of a kennel at her new home: Isle Royale National Park. Four new wolves are now roaming the island. National Park Service photo

ISLE ROYALE NATIONAL PARK - Isle Royale National Park officials on Wednesday, Feb. 6, reported that a single female wolf, one of three transplanted to the island for the Grand Portage Reservation in October, made its way onto the ice and back to shore in Ontario. That leaves just two transplanted wolves and two native wolves left on the island.

With only two wolves left, unable to successfully mate, the Park Service last year began an effort to bring more wolves to the island. The bolting female ended up on the North Shore just across the Pigeon River from Minnesota, not far from where it was trapped to be brought to the island.

The movement was confirmed with radio telemetry and GPS tracking, both by Park Service and Michigan Technological University wildlife biologists.

Wolves originally made their way to the island crossing the ice and, over many years, built up a solid population, feeding on the wealth of moose on Isle Royale. But in recent years, with fewer ice bridges forming during more frequent warmer winters, no new wolves arrived. The wolves that remained became inbred and genetically defective, leading to their numbers crashing over the last decade.

The 45-mile-long, 143,000-acre Isle Royale archipelago is about 14 miles off Minnesota's North Shore.