New Report Shows Michigan’s UP Wolf Population Remains Stable
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) recently released its latest Michigan gray wolf survey results.
The studies are done every other winter, with the latest conducted in early 2022. It shows Michigan’s wolf population in the Upper Peninsula remaining stable, as it has for the past ten years.
MDNR estimates the minimum wolf population in the U.P. to be 631, plus or minus 49 wolves. An estimated 136 packs roam the UP, with an average of 4.5 wolves per pack. No signs of wolves were detected in the Lower Peninsula.
“Our minimum wolf population estimate is not statistically different from the last estimate in 2020,” said Cody Norton, the DNR’s wolf specialist, in a release. “All of the estimates since 2011 have not differed statistically.”
While the numbers remain steady, the density appears to be shifting.
“The density of wolves may have decreased in some areas of the west U.P. and increased in some parts of the east U.P.,” said DNR wildlife biologist Brian Roell
MDNR speculates this could be the result of harsher winters in 2013-2015 that reduced the number of deer and the high snowfall in the region.
Since 2011, the minimum estimate for the UP wolf population has remained stable, ranging from 618 to 695. These numbers are considered the maximum number of wolves the U.P. can sustain.
The last confirmed wolf sighting in the Lower Peninsula was in 2004, in Presque Isle County. It was the first in at least 69 years. In 2014, scat samples confirmed a wolf in the Northern Lower Peninsula. MDNR states, “Although it is possible that wolves occur in the L.P., but as of January 2023, no wolves are known to exist there.”
According to wolf.org, “Gray wolves once existed throughout Michigan. However, removal began shortly after European settlement. Wolves were removed primarily through poisoning between 1838 and 1960. Within a few years after their protection under the Endangered Species Act, wolves began immigrating from Wisconsin, and in 1991 a wolf pack was confirmed to be reproducing in Michigan.”
Find out more about wolves and the Michigan Wolf Management Plan at Michigan.gov/Wolves.
Photo: A gray wolf in Marquette County. Credit MDNR.