Conservation and Trapping News

DNR: Wolf population remains stable in Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Jan 18, 2023 07:49 ET

[Reprinted from original]

(CBS DETROIT) - A survey from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources shows that the wolf population in the Upper Peninsula remains stable.

DNR officials say the 2022 survey estimates a minimum population of 631 wolves, with a total of 136 packs. The average number of wolves per pack is about 4.5.

"These results show a continued trend of statistical stability, indicating that gray wolves may have reached their biological carrying capacity within the Upper Peninsula," DNR wolf specialist Cody Norton says in a press release. "Wolf presence has only been confirmed twice genetically in the Lower Peninsula in recent times; in 2004 and 2014."

The survey is conducted every other winter and includes Drummond, Nebbish and Sugar islands, excluding Isle Royale, which are managed by the National Park Service.

Officials say the population remained steady between 1989-2011 and increased at an average annual rate of 19% from 1994 to 2007. Between 2003 and 2007, the average annual growth rate was 12%.

The minimum population estimate has typically ranged from 618 to 695 since 2011.

Despite a stable population, the DNR says wolf density has shifted.

"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.," DNR wildlife biologist Brian Roell said in a press release.

Experts believe the density may be linked to the winter weather between 2013 and 2015, which reduced the deer density in mid- and high-snowfall zones.

In the Lower Peninsula, experts say a wolf that was captured in Presque Isle County nearly 20 years ago was the first verification of a wild wolf in the region in at least 69 years. That wolf was killed by a coyote trapper.

Although biologists from the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians captured what appeared to be a wolf (DNA analysis confirmed that the animal was a wolf), DNR officials say no wolves are known to exist in the Lower Peninsula as of January 2023.