Officials will consider fate of Isle Royale wolves

Isle Royale wolves
In this Feb. 10, 2006, file photo provided by Michigan Technological University, a pack of gray wolves is shown on Isle Royale National Park in northern Michigan. A report obtained by AP shows the number of gray wolves at Isle Royale National Park is down to 16, the lowest number since the late 1990s, and there may be only one or two females left.
AP Photo/Michigan Technological University, John Vucetich

Officials at Isle Royale National Park are deciding how best to address a sharply declining wolf population.

The National Park Service announced Tuesday it has begun an internal review of the isolated wolf population on an island in western Lake Superior.

A study released last week shows only nine wolves remaining.

The Isle Royale wolf population is at its fewest numbers in 54 years. Researchers from Michigan Tech University say only one female remains. Officials have a plan to evaluate whether to intervene to try to reverse the population decline, Isle Royale Park Superintendent Phyllis Green said.

Researchers say they could bring in female wolves from elsewhere, but Green said another option is to do nothing.

"Most of the academics we've talked to said we really should let this population and its genetics play out and follow their own path, because we've learned so much from the population," he said.

Park officials will consider options this summer and fall before beginning a more formal environmental review, Green said.

"The best thing you can do when dealing with wildlife is to be very, very, very careful when you tinker, and to make sure you're doing a very intelligent tinkering, and understand what the consequences of your actions might be," Green said.

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