Moose populations have struggled in Great Lakes state for years.
Michigan moose populations are in trouble and could soon end up on the endangered species list.
Moose in Michigan are a part of a Midwestern subspecies that is native to the state. However, their numbers have been steadily declining for the last few hundred years. Now, MLive.com reports some of the more aerial recent surveys estimate just 323 moose in the western part of the Upper Peninsula.
On the eastern side of the U.P., things are even worse. The Michigan DNR estimates there may be only 100 there.
In response, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are planning a study to determine if these moose will be added to the federal endangered species list.
As for what happens next, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will begin gathering scientific data and reviewing possible conservation measures after a petition to add moose to the endangered species list not only in Michigan, but also Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin provided enough evidence for further investigation.
After a year of federal review, Mlive.com reports there will be also be a 60 period of public comment.
As for why the animals haven’t been doing as well in Michigan, experts say there are many factors involved over the course of hundreds of years now.
“In Michigan, the moose population has declined for a variety of reasons, including habitat loss, predation and climate change,” DNR Wildlife Division chief Russ Mason told MLive.com.
One of the reasons for habitat loss was 19th century logging in the Lower Peninsula which resulted in moose disappearing from the southern part of the state way back in the 1890s. Right now, the only place in Michigan where moose are really thriving is the remote Isle Royale located in Lake Superior.
There are concerns there about what proposed reintroductions of wolves may mean for the island’s population.
It’s not as if attempts to stabilize the moose population haven’t been made in the past. The DNR transplanted moose from Isle Royale and Ontario into the U.P. in the 1930s and 1980s. Officials had originally hoped for 1,000 or more moose by the year 2000, but that obviously never happened.
It’s not just habitat loss that may have contributed to moose being unable to gain a real foothold in the Great Lakes state. Moose tend to do better in colder conditions and climate change has meant warmer temperatures in the U.P. in recent years.