With an estimated 509 moose living in the western Upper Peninsula, wildlife biologists said the population is growing at a long-term average of about 2 percent each year.
“The growth rate for this moose population is low, but remains positive,” Michigan Natural Resources Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason said. “Moose are continuing to maintain a foothold in the western Upper Peninsula, continuing to further extend the lineage of a population airlifted to the area from Canada in the mid-1980s.”
The western U.P. moose range covers about 1,400 square miles in parts of Marquette, Baraga, and Iron counties. The eastern U.P. population of moose is not surveyed but is estimated to have fewer than 100 moose.
The aerial survey was completed in early February, but Mason reported the survey results Thursday to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission. Moose surveys are conducted every other winter by the DNR, with gray wolf surveys taking place during the interim winters.
“Overall, flying conditions were difficult, with flights cancelled on 23 days, primarily because of snow and high winds,” said Brad Johnson, a DNR wildlife technician who coordinates the survey. “On the days we could fly, conditions were good; snow covered most of the stumps and down logs and we had some snow on the conifers for most of the survey, all of which aided our efforts.”
The Moose Hunting Advisory Council’s recommendation to only allow hunting if a growth rate of greater 3 percent is maintained, the DNR is not recommending implementing a harvest at this time.