Michigan moose don’t make up a large herd.
However, biologists estimate that moose numbers are up by nearly 100 animals, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
“Our survey findings this year are encouraging because a possible population decline detected in 2015 was transitory,” says Dean Beyer, a DNR wildlife research biologist.
Beyer organizes the sampling and generates the estimate for the biennial survey effort. Wildlife biologists surveyed the population from a fixed-wing aircraft this past winter.
The DNR conducts a moose survey every two years in the species’ high-population area. Michigan moose are found on Isle Royale National Park and two Upper Peninsula population centers.
Officials conduct the survey in the western U.P. but not to the east. The eastern population has fewer than 100 moose across 1,200 square miles.
Weather conditions hindered the survey this past winter. Biologists could only estimate the core area and not the low-density spots.
“This will not allow us to estimate moose abundance throughout the entirety of the western U.P. moose range,” Beyer says. “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.”
Biologists believe a complete western U.P. survey would have revealed p to 470 Michigan moose in the area.
Officials are pleased with the count, since the moose population appeared to decrease from the 2013 to 2015 surveys.
The DNR reintroduced moose to the western U.P. in 1985 and 1987.
While the Michigan moose population appears to be growing, the DNR isn’t considering a moose hunt. A growth rate of 3% or more must be maintained to consider a harvest.