Wolf populations rising in Midwest May 04, 2005 10:16 AM
Wolf populations rising in Midwest Minn. tops list with 2,400; Mich., Wis.,
HINCKLEY, Minn. - New
research shows that wolf numbers are increasing in Michigan, Wisconsin and
The three states in the upper Midwest have an estimated 3,800
gray wolves, experts said at a conference in Hinckley last
While populations grew in all three states, preliminary data for
Michigan and Wisconsin suggest dramatic change growth in those states -
14 percent more wolves last winter than a year earlier.
wildlife biologist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said
the preliminary estimate for wolves in the Upper Peninsula in 2004-05 is 408
animals in 86 packs.
Researchers also found a wolf in Michigan's Lower
Peninsula last year for the first time since 1910. It was fitted with a
radio collar and monitored for several months before a coyote trapper
mistakenly killed it, Beyer said.
Michigan and Wisconsin still have
far fewer wolves than Minnesota, which has an estimated 3,020 of them, up 23
percent since the last major survey in the winter of 1997-98, said John Erb,
wolf biologist for the Minnesota Department of Natural
Large populations of wildlife are difficult to estimate, so
biologists cannot say how Minnesota's wolf population has grown, or if
it is leveling off. The state's population, while presented as a single
estimate of 3,020, could be between 2,301 and 3,708 animals, Erb
Erb said most of Minnesota's wolves live in about 485 packs
averaging five to six wolves each.
It is possible that more wolves
are surviving in the same range because of the abundant supply there of
their main prey. "Just over the past five years, our deer population was
estimated to be 70 percent higher in the overall forested wolf range in
Minnesota," Erb said.
In Wisconsin, the unofficial estimate for this
past winter was 425 wolves, 52 more than the previous year, conservation
biologist Adrian Wydeven said.
The main surprise in Wisconsin is that
the number of wolf packs - about 109 - did not increase and that several
packs now have seven to 10 members each, almost twice the typical size,
The wolf's recovery in the upper Midwest is a major reason
the federal government is seeking to reduce protection of the animals
under the Endangered Species Act. That effort was blocked by a federal
judge in Oregon in January.