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Survey shows rebound in western U.P. moose population

a moose being released
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Moose were reintroduced to the western Upper Peninsula in the 1980s.

The moose population in the western Upper Peninsula appears to be rebounding after taking a dip a few years ago.

Moose were reintroduced into the western U.P. in the 1980s. Their range there covers about 1,400 square miles in parts of Marquette, Baraga, and Iron Counties. 

The moose population in the area grew to 451 in 2013 before dropping down to 285 in 2015.

But Michigan Department of Natural Resources spokesman John Pepin says the just completed aerial survey counted 378 moose.

“I think the fact there is an increased number, or a rebounding of the moose population here over the last couple of years, is going to hearten a lot of people who have never seen a moose in their life,” said Pepin. 

There is some concern about the future of moose in the western U.P. That's because the percentage of calves in the population keeps falling, even as overall numbers rebound. Calves made up 22 percent of the moose population was in 2013.  That fell to 19 percent in the latest count.

There are also moose populations in the eastern U.P. and Isle Royale.

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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