Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is taking steps to save a caribou herd on an island in Lake Superior by moving healthy animals to another island with an existing herd.

A statement from Minister Kathryn McGarry says: “We will be transporting a suitable portion of the caribou population to the Slate Islands to ensure the continued viability of this important species on an island free from predators.”

“There is an existing caribou population on the Slate island and the transported animals will augment the existing herd and breed safely, which we hope will expand the population.”

According to an article on CBC News, the herd on Michipicoten Island in Lake Superior was reintroduced in the early 1980s. The population was as high as 700, but has decreased to less than 100 due to predation from wolves.

A more recent story on CBC News says the ministry’s plan is to transport the caribou by helicopter, but the details haven’t been worked out yet.

Minister McGarry says there were several competing opinions and plans on what to do, including those who wanted to let nature to take its course.

A representative of the Michipicoten First Nation, Leo Lepiano, says the ministry’s action came after extensive lobbying from the community.

“It is very unfortunate that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Foresty allowed the situation to get to the point where the translocation of caribou is required,” he said.

Read the full articles here and here.

Photo: Lake Superior, by Andrew Balfour via Wikimedia Commons