Michigan DNR wildlife biologists estimate the number of moose in the western Upper Peninsula core population area at 378 animals, up from 285 in 2015.
“Our survey findings this year are encouraging because a possible population decline detected in 2015 was transitory,” said Dean Beyer, a DNR wildlife research biologist who organizes the sampling and generates the estimate for the biannual survey effort.
The results were reported to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission at a recent meeting in Houghton. A moose hunt in Michigan is not currently being considered.
The western U.P. moose range covers about 1,400 square miles in parts of Marquette, Baraga, and Iron counties. The population there is the result of moose reintroduction efforts in 1985 and 1987.
An eastern U.P. moose population, spread across portions of Alger, Schoolcraft, Luce and Chippewa counties, is estimated to contain fewer than 100 moose ranging across a 1,200-square-mile area. This population was not surveyed by the DNR.
Surveys of moose in the western U.P. are conducted every two years from fixed wing aircraft. Roughly 30 plots are surveyed within the high-density core population area and about 15 more randomly selected plots surrounding the core in a low-density zone.
However, winter weather conditions prevented some survey flights this year, which did not allow researchers to complete the winter 2016-17 moose survey of some low density transects.
“This will not allow us to estimate moose abundance throughout the entirety of the western U.P. moose range,” Beyer said. “However, we were able to generate an estimate for the core area. In the past, this core zone has supported 80 to 90 percent of the population.”