Upper Peninsula gray wolves seem to be stable

Although it certainly has its detractors, the gray wolf population in the Upper Peninsula seemed to be stabilized and, in fact, might have reached its natural ceiling, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

An analysis of data collected in 2022 produced an estimate of 631 wolves, give or take 49, the Department of Natural Resources said this week.

The survey estimated 136 packs roam the U.P., with an average of four to five animals in each, AP reported.

These results show a continued trend of statistical stability, indicating that gray wolves may have reached their biological carrying capacity within the U.P.,î said Cody Norton, the DNRís wolf specialist.

AP noted that wolves once roamed across Michigan but were driven out, as in much of the lower 48 states, through trapping, poisoning and bounty programs.

After they were protected under the Endangered Species Act in the 1970s, a remnant population in Minnesota began migrating through northern Wisconsin and eventually reached Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Numbers rose steadily from 1989 to 2011 and have leveled off.

From a wildlife management standpoint, all of this must be considered good news. Unfortunately, this will do little to assuage the differences both sides of the wolf controversy have.

If, nothing else, having a population number both sides accept as accurate — more or less — is better than nothing.


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