A pack of Canadian wolves was airdropped into Michigan this month to help maintain the state’s growing moose populations. The wolves, who just a few weeks ago were living it up in the Ontario wilderness, were transported via helicopter to Michigan Isle Royale national park to help balance out the park’s problematic moose population.
The four wolves were carefully selected by experts to ensure the animals will thrive in their new environment. Wolves tend to only live four years in the wild, with the exception of alpha males who can live up to twice as long. Authorities needed to captured wolves that were not too old or young and didn’t have any conditions that would damage their chances of survival and breeding.
“You don’t get to choose the wolf you trap,” explained ecologist John Vucetich to the Guardian. Vucetich leads the Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale project. “It could be old, young, or injured when captured. Authorities wanted animals that weren’t too young or too old, and that didn’t have any trouble with their teeth.”
The process of transferring wolves is undoubtedly a tricky one. Wolves operate in packs - they cannot survive on their own and the animals being transported are unfamiliar with one another. “They are being introduced to each other. It’s tense and nervous – and it’s tough to find food in a new place. It’s stressful,” explained Vucetich.
This isn’t the first-time wolves have been airlifted into the park to help maintain the park's ecosystem. Just last year, the Isle received another shipment of wolves from Minnesota. Three females and one male were successfully transferred to the park from the state, with a fifth wolf dying during the transition period after being sedated.