Practical application of disease risk analysis for reintroducing gray wolves (Canis lupus) to Isle Royale National Park, USA

Michelle L. Verant, Tiffany M. Wolf, Mark C. Romanski, Seth A Moore, Treana Mayer, Ulrike G Munderloh, Lisa D Price, Mandigandan Lejeune, Brent R. Patterson, Dean E. Beyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Evaluation of disease risks associated with wildlife translocations is important for minimizing unintended harm and achieving conservation goals. A framework for disease risk analysis (DRA) has been developed by the World Organization for Animal Health and International Union for Conservation of Nature, but applications for planning and implementation in wildlife conservation projects are limited. To fill this gap, we describe a DRA we conducted to identify, assess, and mitigate disease risks associated with reintroduction of gray wolves (Canis lupus) to Isle Royale National Park (IRNP). A total of 19 wolves were translocated from multiple locations within the Great Lakes Region to IRNP between September 2018 and September 2019. Integration of the DRA into project planning and use of diverse expertise among project personnel enabled a timely and cost-effective process that facilitated multidisciplinary and cross-cultural collaboration, transparent communication about risks and uncertainties, and practical management of disease risks for wildlife and personnel. Engaging disease experts and experienced field biologists in the assessment also helped to identify and account for potential sources of bias. We hope practical examples like this encourage wider adoption of DRA principles in translocations of wildlife for conservation purposes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12814
JournalConservation Science and Practice
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to E. J. Isaac, John Hart, Donald Lonsway, Tony Aderman, Dan O'Brien, Michelle Carstensen, Shannon Barber-Meyer, Tracy Thompson, Kyle Joly, and Ellen E. Brandell for their expertise in the risk assessment, and to Roger Deschampe, Jr, Yvette Chenaux-Ibrahim, Mike Allan, Nicole Chandler, Graham Crawshaw, Ashley McLaren, Kevin Middel, and Scott Taylor for their contributions to the data used in the assessment. Thank you to Rebecca Young for assistance with fecal analyses, and to Tyler Chisholm and Nathan Galloway for assistance in designing the figures. We thank participating agency staff, collaborators, and wolf experts as listed in Romanski et al. (2020) for their essential support in wolf translocation planning and operations. Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the US Government.

Funding Information:
The disease risk analysis was led and funded by the National Park Service with in‐kind support from the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, USDA APHIS Wildlife Services, US Geological Survey, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, and Cornell University.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 His Majesty the King in Right of Canada, Cornell University and The Authors. Conservation Science and Practice published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society for Conservation Biology. Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Natural Resources & Forestry. This article has been contributed to by U.S. Government employees and their work is in the public domain in the USA.


  • conservation
  • disease risk analysis
  • Isle Royale
  • ma'iingan
  • Minong
  • risk management
  • wildlife translocation
  • wolf


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