LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The state Department of Natural Resources says a survey conducted in January estimates that Michigan’s elk population has increased 5% since 2019.
The aerial survey over eight days in January covered 1,080 square miles (2,797 square kilometers) of sample plots across the northern Lower Peninsula, according to the DNR which put the estimated elk population between 870 and 1,684.
A total of 793 elk in 92 groups were observed and a population estimate model was used to account for the animals that may not have been observed during the survey.
“The latest estimates suggest that the elk herd remains healthy,” said Chad Stewart, DNR deer, elk and moose management specialist.
Michigan’s Elk Management Plan was last updated in 2012. In 2022, an update on Michigan’s elk management progress and accomplishments over the past decade will be developed and incorporated into the plan to guide management decisions for the next 10 years.
Michigan’s native elk died out in the 1800s. Reintroduction began in 1918, when seven from the western U.S. were released near Wolverine, Michigan.
Elk are a valuable resource for the state, while also providing opportunities for outdoor recreation such as hunting and wildlife viewing, the DNR said.