This year marks 100 years since elk were reintroduced to Michigan, and the DNR will celebrate the anniversary – and a century of successful elk management – throughout 2018.
Once common in Michigan, elk had disappeared from the state in the 1800s due to unregulated take and lack of habitat. In 1918, seven elk were brought from the western United States to Wolverine in Cheboygan County.
The healthy and abundant elk population of nearly 1,200 animals in the state today is a result of intentional land management and increased law enforcement. Currently, the Pigeon River Country State Forest near Gaylord, MI is home to the second largest free ranging Elk herd in the Midwest.
A new wildlife license plate featuring an elk, which replaced the former loon plate, is now available from the Secretary of State. The wildlife plate has raised $2.6 million for wildlife habitat since 2001 and will continue to raise money for the nongame fish and wildlife fund.
The DNR also offers Elk University, an opportunity for high school teachers to bring Michigan’s unique elk success story into the classroom and teach students about how the DNR manages and maintains a healthy elk herd. Educators can register for this free program by Jan. 30 for the spring semester and Sept. 30 for the fall semester.
The elk management story continues with an aerial population survey set to begin next week in the northern Lower Peninsula.