About the Michigan Moose Project

Moose were once common in the Northern Lower and Upper Peninsulas. Native Americans captured and killed moose using a number of methods including snares, pitfalls and drift fences. The meat and hides from moose provided sustenance and clothing for the Native peoples in northern Michigan.

As white settlers moved into northern Michigan, hunting, habitat alteration and increased white-tailed deer numbers, with their associated parasites, probably led to the reduction of the moose population. By 1900, moose were extirpated in the Lower Peninsula. It is unclear whether moose were ever extirpated in the Upper Peninsula, but, at the very least, the population was substantially reduced. In 1931 and 1932 moose were reported from only Alger, Chippewa, Keweenaw, Luce, Mackinac and Schoolcraft counties. The potential exists that moose moved from Canada, across the St. Marys River and Whitefish Point, into Chippewa and Luce counties. This may account for the fact that more moose were observed in those two counties than in any other.

Moose did not exist on Isle Royale prior to 1900. It is not known exactly how or when moose did arrive on the island. One line of thought is that the animals crossed over on the ice from Ontario, while another story has it that they were captured in western Minnesota and translocated to the island around 1907. In either event, by 1930 there were an estimated 3,000 animals on the island. This density was more than the habitat could support, and resulted in malnutrition and starvation. In 1934-37, the Michigan Department of Conservation undertook a project to reduce moose numbers on Isle Royale and replenish the mainland U.P. moose herd with animals from Isle Royale. Seventy-one moose were captured and translocated off the island. Six moose were sent to the Cusino Research Station, two went to the Detroit Zoo and the remainder were released in Schoolcraft, Delta and Keweenaw Counties.

While moose observations continued, mainly in the eastern UP, the translocation from Isle Royale did not have the intended effect of substantially increasing the moose population. Subsequently, in 1985 and 1987 a total of 59 additional moose were translocated into Marquette and Baraga counties.

To learn more about the Moose Project, see the links below: