The Timber Wolf (canis lupus) in Michigan

2007 0300 Wolf on LakeMIUS2

2007 0300 Wolf on LakeMIUS2, photo by Dennis Raney.

Alexis writes Paw took this one of a wolf on Lake Michigan off US2 on the way back downstate. There was another wolf on the ice, but it didn’t make it into this frame It’s part of her very cool Michimania set (slideshow).

Wikpedia says the timber wolf, gray wolf or simply wolf is the largest member of the Canidae family. From the Michigan DNR page on the Gray Wolf (canis lupus) and a recent DNR release regarding the delisting of the gray wolf, we get a picture of the state of wolves in Michigan:

It is believed that wolves were once present in all 83 counties in the state of Michigan. A combination of European werewolf mythology, fairy tales, views that wolves were incompatible with civilization, and active predator control programs throughout the 20th century virtually eliminated the gray wolf from Michigan: by 1840, they could no longer be found in the southern portion of the Lower Peninsula; by around 1910 they had completely disappeared from the Lower Peninsula; and by 1960, when the state-paid bounty on wolves was repealed, they had nearly vanished from the Upper Peninsula.

In 2008, a minimum of 520 gray wolves lived in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, part of an estimated population of 4,000 gray wolves living in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

(DNR Director Rebecca Humphries) emphasized that while the gray wolf has been removed from the federal endangered species list, it remains on the state’s protection as a species. There currently is no hunting or trapping of gray wolves allowed in Michigan, and starting on April 22, the gray wolf will be listed as a nongame species in Michigan. In order for hunting to occur, the Michigan Legislature would need to pass a law to add the gray wolf to the list of game species in the state, she said.

You can get more about Canis lupus (gray wolf) from the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology’s Animal Diversity Web and check out pictures & sounds of the gray wolf from Wikimedia including this pic of a wolf print and these sounds from a wolf pack.

You might also want to check out this Absolute Michigan “Weird Wednesday” on the Giant Wolf of Flint by the author of Weird Michigan, Linda Godfrey.

6 thoughts on “The Timber Wolf (canis lupus) in Michigan

  1. you know in canada if you see a wolf they want you to kill it, and thats y they have deer there unlike here so the dnr better start listining to us hunters.

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  2. What are you talking about? Michigan has one of the largest deer populations in the united states.

    Just because you are a poor hunter doesn’t mean wolves should be killed.

    Michigan has the second highest number of car accidents caused by deer in the country. You know why? There are too many deer, because michigan has so few apex predators. Hunting isn’t getting the job done. Nature needs predators, otherwise you get the diseases that are spreading through the deer populations due to overpopulation.

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  3. Given the distance that the picture was taken, how does anyone know the picture is not that of a coyote?
    Large deer population??? The recent hunting seasons harvest recorded in the U.P. have been declining. Sure, there probably been increasing car accidents by deer, but I would surmize that they have been occurring in the more suburban poplulated areas. Deer tend to habitat in where the food source exists.

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  4. The reports available on the DNR’s web site are good reading, and the draft deer management plan there is worth looking at too. It seems we shouldn’t really talk about wolves or deer in the state as a whole right now – southern LP and UP are different places. Almost all the wolves are in the U.P. and deer numbers there have declined too, but so far I haven’t seen any estimates of how much of the decline is due to wolves (it’s very hard to do scientifically since winter, the forests, and hunting regulations change). But deer also declined in the upper lower, without (many) wolves. Deer are way over target in southern LP, but get real, wolves may never be abundant enough there to help that in any meaningful way.
    Even just the hunters are very polarized in their views, with extreme people on one side seeing not a single good thing about wolves, while some on the other side do not agree that there is any downside, and both extremes never give a hint of there being any uncertainties or doubts. Anyway, don’t believe it if folks say there is hunter consensus (see the survey work on DNR website).
    To hunters (I’m one) I suggest we say we will mostly listen to what the biologists have to say – it’s a stand that’s hard to criticize, and it’s where I want to stand personally too. We really don’t have a good understanding of the deer/wolf dynamic, and there are lots of other side-effects as well (on beaver, trout, you-name-it). To give just one example of our current lack of knowledge: who can tell me how the coyote population in the U.P. has changed since about 1995? On Isle Royale they vanished shortly after the wolves appeared, and Minnesota says yotes are “generally absent in wolf core areas”. I can’t find anything like data. I can’t even find estimated deer harvest numbers for the U.P. easily.

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