The National Park Service has decided not to transplant any wolves to Isle Royale National Park to address the island's declining wolf population, MPR News reports.
The wolf pack living on the Lake Superior island has been dwindling over the past several years because of inbreeding, disease and a temporary decline in the moose population. There are just nine wolves compared to an average of 23 over the past couple of decades. Some researchers are concerned the wolves might die out if new animals aren't added to the pack.
But Phyllis Green, the superintendent of Isle Royale National Park, said Wednesday the Park Service doesn't think that step is necessary yet.
Instead, she says park officials will develop a management plan to assess the wolves' survival longer term, as well as their interactions with the moose that live on Isle Royale, the Associated Press reports. She said it'll take about three years to put the plan together.
"This is an island," Green told MPR. "Island biogeography is a developing science, and our understanding of how islands react to change is still really being studied in a lot of ways."
"As long as there's a breeding population, we're going to let these animals have a chance to live their lives without us intervening," Green added, according to the AP.
A long-running research project has been studying the relationship between the wolves and the moose on Isle Royale for more than 50 years. The scientists who lead that study, Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich of Michigan Technological University, are among the most vocal advocates for bringing more wolves to the island.
Vucetich declined comment about Green's decision Wednesday but said he and Peterson would issue a statement next week, according to the Associated Press.
In a 2013 interview, Vucetich said it's important to keep the island's ecosystem healthy, with or without human involvement, the AP reports.
"As long as there are moose on Isle Royale there should be wolves on Isle Royale," Vucetich said.