Department of Natural Resources
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 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 2015 moose survey indicate?
The estimated moose population in the western Upper Peninsula was 323 animals. This indicates a decrease compared to the 2011 survey results of 433 animals. We will continue to monitor future survey results for changes in the population.