license plate
WWMT/Michigan DNR

Michigan Celebrates Return of Elk with New License Plate

Michigan celebrates the 100th anniversary of the return of wild elk to the state by unveiling a new wildlife themed vehicle license plate featuring a bull elk.

Starting December 1, Michigan will have a new elk-themed license plate. It will be replacing the eleven year-old loon license plate and is timed to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the reintroduction of elk into the state.

"We are excited for the changing of the guard," Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason said. "The loon license plate has had a long run, and helped to raise over $2.6 million for wildlife habitat since 2006."

Michigan follows Wisconsin in issuing elk-themed license plates.

Michiganders can still purchase the loon plate up to November 30. $25 of the $35 purchase price for the loon or elk license plate goes to the Department of Natural Resources to help fund wildlife habitat projects.

"All funds from the sale of the elk license plate will continue to help wildlife management. This funding is extremely important because it helps all wildlife."

After the extirpation of the elk in Michigan more than 100 years ago, seven elk were transferred and released from the western United States into the Wolverine area in 1918.

The herd population ebbed and flowed in the intervening years, reaching around 1,500 animals by the early 1960s (a hunting season was even put into effect in 1964 and 1965), and dipping to around 200 animals by 1975. The last elk survey in January 2014 estimated the state's herd to be around 670 animals.

Michigan currently enjoys a limited, two-part elk hunting season.

"The healthy and abundant elk population in the state today is a result of intentional land management and increased law enforcement," the DNR reported in a news release.

The elk license plates can be purchased beginning December 1, by mail or fax by completing and printing a Wildlife Habitat License Plate Order FormThe plate will be mailed within 14 business days. People can also purchase plates directly at any Secretary of State branch office. The plate will be mailed within 14 business days.

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NEXT: Hunter Sits Still in Middle of Elk Herd: Watch What Happens