Thursday, January 26th, 2023
Thursday, January 26th, 2023

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DNR: If L.P. has wolves, the numbers are minimal

By Tracy Breen Correspondent

Gaylord, Mich. — For many years, people throughout the northern
Lower Peninsula have speculated that there are timber wolves south
of the bridge. Some believe they came across the ice from the Upper
Peninsula when the Straits of Mackinac froze over.

The DNR maintained that there probably were no wolves in the
Lower, until last fall when a trapper caught a female wolf in
Presque Isle County, thought it was a coyote, and killed it. That
incident raised questions about the presence of wolves in the L.P.
After the trapped wolf was killed, other wolf tracks were found in
the area.

In February and early March, DNR wildlife biologist Brian
Mastenbrook headed up the wolf track survey in the northern Lower
in an effort to determine if wolves have indeed increased their
range into the L.P.

The survey had two components.

First, there were nine priority areas north of M-32, each
between 200 and 400 square miles in size, that would be searched.
When searching for wolves, the DNR would break off into teams and
search country roads for tracks and other signs of wolves. This
technique is the same one used to find wolves in the Upper
Peninsula, and has been successful in the past.

Second, DNR personnel looked for wolves in areas of the state
where people reported sightings.

“The areas we were searching were big country and we knew going
into it that the likelihood of finding any wolves was slim,”
Mastenbrook told Michigan Outdoor News. After driving hundreds of
miles on roads and trails, Mastenbrook and the team of searchers
didn’t locate any wolves or wolf tracks, although all of the
reports have not yet been submitted. Still, Mastenbrook said he’s
quite certain nothing will turn up.

“The one thing we learned is that if there are wolves in the
Lower Peninsula, there are very few of them. If there were large
numbers, we would have found wolf sign,” he said.

Mastenbrook added that if there are wolves in the L.P., people
won’t see large numbers of them for quite some time.

“The reason wolves populated so quickly in the Upper Peninsula
was because of animals moving into the state from other places and
natural breeding,” Mastenbrook said. “This year, the Straits (of
Mackinac) never froze over, so the only wolves that would have been
here were ones that made it over last year. Plus, wolf litters
usually contain four to six pups and often they lose a few from
each litter to accidents. So, it would be awhile before there is a
healthy population of wolves in the Lower Peninsula.”

East Jordan resident Betty Eisley believes she saw a wolf in her
yard around mid-February. She covered the track to preserve it and
contacted the DNR right away, but says no one investigated the
claim.

“I called the local DNR and emailed someone from the DNR and no
one ever got back in touch with me,” Eisley said.

Even though there are likely few wolves in the area, and the
Eisley case slipped through the cracks, the DNR takes each wolf
sighting by the general public seriously.

“If someone calls in and says they think they have seen a wolf,
we will look into each case to find out if it was a wolf or some
other animal like a coyote. I am not sure what went wrong in this
particular case,” Mastenbrook said. He added that he plans to
contact Eisley

The DNR encourages anyone who thinks they have seen a wolf to
call the local DNR office to report it. The department also would
like people to preserve any physical evidence they may find like a
track.

“When people call in, we tell them to cover the track up with
something to preserve it until we can get there. We encourage
people to take photographs of the animal as well,” Mastenbrook
said

He admitted that finding a wolf in the Lower Peninsula is like
finding a needle in a haystack. The more people that call in when
they see one, the better chance the DNR has of actually confirming
the report.

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