Canada has been airlifting caribou across Lake Superior after they were decimated by wolves

The operation over weekend comes after wolves arrived on their Lake Superior island.
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What's happening?

Canadian authorities have been transporting caribou by helicopter over the weekend, taking them from Michipicoten Island on Lake Superior to the Slate Islands on Saturday.

One bull and six females were tranquilized and placed aboard a transport helicopter for the 80-mile journey, the SaultStar reports.

Why are they doing this?

Because wolves on Micipicoten Island have absolutely decimated the caribou herd – and we're not understating this.

As the Duluth News Tribune reports, a handful wolves arrived on the island in 2014, crossing from the Ontario mainland thanks to the rare formation of an ice bridge.

Before they arrived, the Toronto Star reports there were as many as 700 caribou on the island. Right now? There are only between 30-100 left – and they're the last remaining caribou in the entire region.

The Canadian government had been pressured by caribou protection and tribal groups to take action to preserve the herd.

So what happens now?

Settling in on the wolf-less Slate Islands, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry in Canada hope the herd should have a chance to rebuild.

Ideally, the long-term view is that they should eventually be able to return to the much-larger Michipicoten Island.

The issues on Michipicoten are in stark contrast to the developments on another Lake Superior island, Isle Royale, which is in Michigan though is closest to the Minnesota mainland.

On Isle Royale, it's the wolf population that has been struggling, with inbreeding leading to the dwindling of the population to the point there's as few as two left.

While the wolf population declined, moose numbers on the island have exploded to more than 1,300.

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