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The plight of the wolves of Isle Royale: Wolf research Rolf Peterson has been studying the wolves of Isle Royale for more than 40 years. The wolves face an uncertain future, and he's at the forefront of the fight of what to do next. Dave Wasinger |


Read the entire special report: Silence of the wolves.

At Michiganís Isle Royale National Park, a rugged chain of islands in north Lake Superior, a battle is playing out that will impact the entire Park Service.

The wolves of Isle Royale have become critically isolated, forced into generations of inbreeding because the ice bridge that used to allow new animals in from the mainland has all but disappeared during winter months.

Federal officials must decide whether to get involved and attempt to save them or step aside and let nature choose their fate.

No matter what park officials do, the plight of the Isle Royale wolves represents an historic tipping point in National Park Service policy -- the first time the agency has considered saving a population of animals that are not suffering from direct human activity.

Isle Royale is considered the first test case in how the challenges of climate change will force a new way of thinking and doing in the nationís more than 300 parks and wilderness areas.

Climate change, says National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, changes everything.

Read about blogger Steve Meurett's hiking trip at Isle Royale National Park.

Read this entire package on

More on wolves in Wisconsin: Wolf hunting news from around the state | Trail cameras capture wolf activity

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