Isabelle, the wolf from Isle Royale who was found dead on the mainland last month, was shot by a low-velocity pellet gun, National Park Service officials said Friday.
Her body was found on tribal lands of the Grand Portage Band of Chippewa. Because she wore a collar, tribal officials were able to track down the researchers on Isle Royale who have been studying wolves and moose on the island for decades.
Isabelle, a lone wolf, was in prime breeding condition. She left the island when a rare ice bridge formed in order to find a mate, said Rolf Peterson, one of the researchers from Michigan Technological University.
Phyllis Green, superintendent of Isle Royale National Park, said the wolf was probably shot by someone who was trying to scare her off, not kill her. The Grand Portage Band does not allow wolf hunting or killing, but does allow their members to protect their pets and property from wolves, she said.
An investigation found that the pellet entered between two ribs and hit an artery. Had it hit her half an inch in either direction, the wolf would have been fine, Green said.