Six wolves from Ontario's Michipicoten Island in Lake Superior were expected to be moved to Isle Royale this week thanks to a grant intended to "shutdown proof" the National Park Service effort from future federal budget woes.
The $50,000 grant from the National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation allowed wildlife agencies from both sides of the border to make plans in recent weeks for the wolf relocation, which could happen as soon as there are four straight days of stable, calm weather forecast.
The wolves will join three Minnesota wolves brought to the island last fall, all aimed at replenishing the island's beleaguered native wolf population that had dwindled to just two animals - a male and female unable to successfully mate due to inbreeding and genetic deformities.
The project was opposed by some critics who wanted to let nature take its course,even if it meant having no predators there.
The grant also will pay for ongoing monitoring of the new wolves even if another shutdown occurs. The government appears to be funded through Feb. 15, but future funding remains in limbo over disagreements between President Donald Trump and Democrats in Congress.
The foundation also has made another $55,000 available to the Interior Department, which oversees the NPS, to cover any costs for the ongoing island research by Michigan Technological University researchers every winter since 1959. That effort appeared doomed for this winter when the NPS said the island would be off-limits during the shutdown.