Moose population in Upper Peninsula growing at fast rate

Officials are cautiously calling it a wildlife success story, the apparent boost in the Upper Peninsula’s moose population.

The U.P., excluding Isle Royale National Park, has fewer than 500 moose but their numbers are growing, according to recent Michigan Department of Natural Resources estimates.

About 100 moose live in the eastern U.P., “spread across portions of Alger, Schoolcraft, Luce and Chippewa counties … ranging across a 1,200-square-mile area,” the agency reported in June.

That same report said wildlife biologists estimate the number of moose in the western U.P. at 378 animals, up from 285 in 2015.

The western U.P. moose range over about 1,400 square miles in parts of Marquette, Baraga and Iron counties, the DNR said.

All of that said, moose central in these parts must be Isle Royale, the 45-mile-long island in Lake Superior where the moose population has grown to about 1,600, according to the most recent annual winter survey by researchers at Michigan Technological University in Houghton.

The decline of wolves on the island, researchers believe, is responsible for the population increase there.

Without wolves to keep the population down, it could double in the next few years.

From where we sit, there is no downside to this apparent increase in the moose population. Tourists love them, researchers follow their every move and the village of Newberry has taken on the unofficial moniker of “Moose Capital of Michigan.”