The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has confirmed the presence of a gray wolf in Emmet County through genetic testing.
The DNR said scat found by tribal biologists from the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians in March 2014 has been confirmed to be from a male gray wolf. Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, made the confirmation.
Tribal biologists also found tracks with the scat.
"The DNR and partners continue to administer wolf track surveys in the northern Lower Peninsula, which were designed to determine if wolves have moved onto the Lower Peninsula landscape," said Kevin Swanson, DNR bear and wolf specialist in Marquette. "We have had some tracks and potential sightings, but genetic testing gives us a definitive confirmation."
Genetic testing confirmed the sample closely matched the generic information of northeast Ontario wolves, reported the DNR. That means the wolf presence is not likely from a wolf that escaped from captivity.
The DNR said this is the second confirmation of wolf presence in the Lower Peninsula since 1910. The first confirmed wolf presence was made in 2004, when a coyote trapper in Presque Isle County accidentally killed a gray wolf that had been previously captured and collared in the Upper Peninsula's Mackinac County.
Swanson said wolves dispersed from Upper Peninsula packs might travel to the northern reaches of the Lower Peninsula during cold winters that produce ice bridges between the two peninsulas.