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Park Service holds off on new wolf introduction at Isle Royale

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DULUTH -- The National Park Service has opted against conducting an emergency genetic rescue of wolves on Isle Royale, and will instead conduct a long-term environmental review on the park’s diminished wolf population.

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Isle Royale Superintendent Phyllis Green announced Wednesday that she won’t allow the introduction of transplanted wolves onto the Lake Superior island at this time – an effort some wolf researches have suggested to revitalize wolf genetics and bolster the population.

Instead, Green said she has begun the formal environmental impact statement process, an action that could take up to three years to reach a conclusion.

The environmental review will look not just at why wolf numbers have declined in recent years – and whether their inbreeding has doomed the small population -- but will include a review of the island’s entire ecosystem. Most important is how wolves relate to moose on the island, how moose relate to vegetation, and how the entire system is being affected by climate change, Green said.

Isle Royale is about 18 miles off Minnesota's North Shore at the Canadian border. Last spring, researchers reported only eight adult wolves remained on the island, down from 24 in 2009 and the lowest level since 1958.

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