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DNR: Michigan’s Wolf Population Steady

Matt Cardy, Getty Images

The Michigan DNR’s annual report on Michigan’s wolf population is out and it shows little change in the wolf population from 2013.

The Michigan DNR says wildlife biologists estimate there was a minimum of 636 wolves in Michigan this winter, with a confidence interval of plus-or-minus 42 animals. In 2013, the population estimate was 658 wolves, with a confidence interval of plus-or-minus 56 animals.

“Based on the 2014 minimum population estimate, it is clear that wolf numbers in Michigan are stable and have experienced no significant change,” said Adam Bump, DNR furbearer and bear specialist. “We also did not see a significant difference in the number and average size of wolf packs as compared to 2013.”

The wolf population survey is completed by DNR Wildlife Division and U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services staff. The survey counts wolves primarily through tracking, but also utilizes radio-collared animals and aerial observation.

In 2014, approximately 63 percent of the Upper Peninsula was surveyed.

Since wolves returned to the Upper Peninsula in the 1980s, the population steadily grew until recent years when growth began to level off, which is what wildlife biologists expected to see.

In the past few years, Michigan’s minimum population estimate has hovered between 600-700 wolves.

In 2013, the DNR established a wolf management hunt in the Upper Peninsula, with three designated hunt units and a target harvest of 43 wolves, of which 22 were taken. The hunt was to help in areas with persistent issues.

“The fact that the 2014 estimate is 22 animals lower than the 2013 estimate is purely a coincidence.” Bump said. “We are using an estimate rather than counting all individual wolves on the landscape. In addition, wolf numbers vary greatly within a single year due to the birth of pups in the spring, and deaths from many causes of mortality other than hunting. What the estimate tells us is that the population has remained stable.”

Learn more about wolves in Michigan.

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