Gray wolf killed in Southwest Michigan not believed to be part of a larger population, DNR says

Gray Wolf Michigan
Posted at 9:54 AM, Apr 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-03 09:54:44-04

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources say a gray wolf was killed during a legal coyote hunt in Southwest Michigan earlier this year.

According to the DNR, a hunter reported he harvested a large animal in Calhoun County in January during the hunt, and genetic tests done by the Michigan DNR revealed the animal was a gray wolf.

Calhoun County is in Southwest Michigan between Jackson and Kalamazoo, and includes Battle Creek.

According to the DNR, Michigan's known wolf population is in the Upper Peninsula, and the DNR is continuing to investigate the presence of the wolf, as it was found far beyond the U.P.

"This is an unusual case, and the DNR is actively delving into the matter to learn more about this particular animal's origin," said Brian Roell, large carnivore specialist for the DNR. "While rare, instances of wolves traversing vast distances have been documented, including signs of wolves in recent decades in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.”

The hunter told the DNR he initially believed it was a large coyote, and reported that the animal weighed about 84 pounds. Eastern coyotes typically weigh between 25 pounds and 40 pounds.

The gray wolf species has not been sighted in that part of Michigan since the likely extirpation of wolves in from the state in the early 20th century. Wolves are now confined almost exclusively to the U.P.

The DNR said they do not suspect the animal was part of an established population in the Southern Lower Peninsula, and the public does not need to be concerned about a broader wolf presence in the county or the Lower Peninsula.

According to the DNR, data from collared wolves in Michigan have shown the animals can travel thousands of miles and in some cases, far beyond their known range.

Other instances of wolves in the northern Lower Peninsula include in 20111 and 2015 when track evidence with wolflike animals were found in Cheyboygan and Emmet counties, and in 2014, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians captured a wolf on a trail camera.

Wolves in Michigan are an endangered species by federal court order.