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Census shows fewer wolves in Michigan's Upper Peninsula

USFWS Midwest

There are fewer wolves living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

State wildlife biologists report a slight dip in the wolf population following last fall’s controversial hunt.

The Department of Natural Resources has just completed a census of wolves in the Upper Peninsula. The DNR admits the count is more of an estimate than an accurate head count.

The DNR claims there are 636 wolves roaming the U.P. That’s down from 658 in 2013. But given the inexact nature of trying to count animals that usually avoid humans, state wildlife biologists say the census actually shows the wolf population is stable.

“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,” says Adam Bump, DNR furbearer and bear specialist. “What the estimate tells us is that the population has remained stable.”

Critics of last fall’s wolf hunt see it differently.

Jill Fritz is with Keep Michigan Wolves Protected. She says the numbers “reflect how Michigan’s fragile population of wolves is still struggling to recover" from near extinction not long ago.

Twenty-two wolves were killed in last fall’s state sanctioned hunt in three specific parts of the Upper Peninsula. A 23rd wolf was also killed, but it was not properly registered with the state. 

Michigan voters will get a chance to weigh in on the future of wolf hunts in the Upper Peninsula in November.  The controversial hunt will be the subject of one, two or maybe even three separate ballot questions.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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