(ISLE ROYALE)–The National Park Service (NPS) could opt to replenish the dwindling wolf population on Michigan’s Isle Royale, there’s already a basic plan spelling out how that would happen. The NPS could release its final decision on the wolf question soon. In mid-March, it released a Final Environmental Impact Statement to Address the Presence of Wolves for the remote island park in Lake Superior. It laid out four alternatives for action related to the wolves, including Alternative B, which is the Park Service’s preferred plan. It calls for a capture of 20 to 30 wild wolves for release on the island. Federal officials find themselves on the brink of this decision after the island’s longtime wolf and moose populations have seesawed down to a spot where there are only two wolves left on the island. Disease, accidents and in-breeding all have taken a toll on a population that at its high point saw about 50- wolves on the island. The island’s moose population, without a strong predator pack, was last estimated at 1,600 and accelerating. Their overbrowsing of this leafy wilderness is a concern. The last wolf pair – a male and a female – are closely related. They have little chance of producing viable offspring, according to researchers who have been tracking the decreasing pack for years. Isle Royale sits in the northwest portion of Lake Superior. It’s about 15- miles from the Canadian border, and 56 miles from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula mainland. Wolves crossed over to the island on ice bridges in the 1940s, researches said. But any wolves that may have come over when ice bridges have formed in recent years have not stayed. If the NPS does go with its preferred option, it could happen as soon as this fall. While park staff declined to discuss the proposal until the 30-day waiting period was over, the plan released in March laid out the details. Here’s how it could be done: Between 20 and 30 wolves would be brought to the island in the first three years. They would be captured mostly from the Great Lakes area, in places where the plants and forests are similar to the island’s habitat, and in areas where they are currently used to hunting large prey. Areas of the Great Lakes region where wolves would be captured could include, but are not limited to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, or Ontario, Canada. The NPS would target healthy wolves, a mix of age and genders, and they could arrive on the island as mini-packs, parents with pups, or individuals. “The National Park Service would aim to capture family groups that are separated by at least 40 miles to maximize genetic variation.” How would they be captured? The plan says the wolves could be nabbed with a net gun shot from a helicopter. They could use modified, padded foot traps. They could dart them from a helicopter, or use modified snares. The wolves could be “chemically immobilized” during capture, and taken to a site set up where they could be briefly examined. They would be held for just the minimum time necessary before introducing them onto specific parts of the island. The goal is not to stress the wolves, and not to habituate them to humans. Human and wolf interactions would be minimized. Once captured, wolves would be transported via boat, plane, or helicopter to the island. Wolves could be net-gun captured with a helicopter and flown to a site for evaluation.