Frequently Asked Questions About Moose in Michigan
MICHIGAN'S MOOSE POPULATION
What is the origin of the Upper Peninsula's moose population?
Moose are a native species to Michigan, but their numbers declined substantially during European settlement. By the late 1800s, moose had disappeared from the Lower Peninsula and only a handful remained in the Upper Peninsula. In the mid-1980s, the DNR translocated 59 moose from Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada and released them in Marquette County. The goal of the moose reintroduction was to produce a self-sustaining population of free-ranging moose in the Upper Peninsula. Moose are currently found in two areas of the Upper Peninsula: the reintroduced population in Marquette, Baraga and Iron counties, and a smaller remnant population in the eastern UP, found primarily in Alger, Schoolcraft, Luce and Chippewa counties.
How many moose are there in the Upper Peninsula?
During the most recent moose population survey in January 2011, we estimated 433 animals in the western Upper Peninsula, up slightly from 420 animals in 2009. No formal survey of the eastern UP moose population is conducted, but local biologists estimate there are fewer than 100 animals, based on field observations and reports from the general public.
How and when does the Department of Natural Resources survey the moose population?
The department conducts an aerial moose survey once every other year in January. The survey involves flying systematically at a low altitude over parts of Marquette, Baraga and Iron counties and recording how many moose are seen. Although conducting the survey in the winter helps our trained spotters to see moose on the snow-covered landscape, it is still impossible to count every moose, so the counts are "corrected" with a statistical model to provide an estimate of the actual population size. The statistical model was derived by running experimental trials on radio-collared moose.
Why is this survey done?
The biennial survey is conducted to help wildlife biologists monitor population growth and assess management successes or potential concerns. The survey has taken place every other year since 1997.
What do the results of the 2011 moose survey indicate?
The estimated moose population in the western Upper Peninsula was 433 animals in January 2011. This indicates a slight increase compared to the 2009 survey results of 420 animals. This is a much smaller increase than what was observed in surveys conducted since 1997, which suggests the growth of the moose population may have slowed in the past two years. We will continue to monitor future survey results to determine whether this is a short-term blip or if we are seeing a real change in the trend of the moose population's growth. An overview of moose population survey estimates since 1997, and a discussion of moose management issues in Michigan, is included in a recent white paper published by the DNR in February 2011 (see "Moose in Michigan: History, Biology, and Considerations for Hunting").
Is it true that a moose hunting season is being considered?
Legislation passed in late 2010 authorized the Natural Resources Commission to establish a moose hunting season in Michigan. The NRC is not expected to make a final decision on whether or not to create a moose hunting season until they receive a report on the biological and economic implications of a moose hunt from the Moose Hunting Advisory Council in Dec. 2011. DNR Wildlife Division's role is to convey what we know about the biology of the population, what uncertainties exist in our knowledge, and our best predictions on how the population will respond to various harvest scenarios, by providing information to the Moose Hunting Advisory Council and the NRC.
What is the Moose Hunting Advisory Council?
The seven-member Moose Hunting Advisory Council was created as part of the legislation passed in late 2010 authorizing the NRC to consider the possibility of a moose hunting season. The council is charged with considering the impacts moose hunting would have on the moose population and the various economic benefits associated with moose hunting. The council will meet regularly throughout 2011 and will submit its report to the Natural Resources Commission, the Department and the Legislature no later than Dec. 22, 2011. Whether or not a moose hunting season is established and what a season would entail is at the discretion of the NRC.
The legislation that created the Moose Hunting Advisory Council specified that the seven-member council would include representatives from the following stakeholder groups: The DNR's Director or his designee, an organization promoting conservation in Michigan, organizations promoting hunting or fishing in Michigan, representatives nominated by the speaker of the house and senate majority leader, and a representative chosen by the Michigan Intertribal Council.
Members appointed to the council include Jim Ekdahl of L'Anse, Jim Hammill of Crystal Falls, Mick Jarvi of Houghton County, George Lindquist of Marquette County, Jason Dinsmore of Ann Arbor and DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason.