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State survey: UP wolf population stable, may have reached capacity

Courtesy: Michigan Department of Natural Resources

There are at least 631 gray wolves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, according to the state’s latest survey.

The state does a biannual survey of the UP’s wolf population, excluding Isle Royale. The latest numbers are from early 2022. The analysis was delayed during the past year as wildlife biologists focused on updating the state’s Wolf Management Plan.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Wildlife biologists from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources say their latest data "shows the wolf population in the Upper Peninsula remains stable, as it has for more than a decade."

Experts with Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources say the wolf population there has remained basically stable for over a decade. That indicates it may have reached biological carrying capacity — the maximum number of wolves the environment there can reasonably support.

However, wolf populations appear to have shifted over time. “The density of wolves may have decreased in some areas of the west UP and increased in some parts of the east UP,” DNR wildlife biologist Brian Roell said.

The DNR says it’s possible that wolves exist in the Lower Peninsula too. But as of now, there’s no evidence that’s the case.

Gray wolves are currently on the federal list of threatened and endangered species. That means they can’t be killed except in defense of human life.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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