The presence of gray wolves in Michigan’s northern lower peninsula is receiving some serious scrutiny.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is conducting a survey through March 10 with the intent of detecting any wolves in the state’s lower half.
There currently are more than 500 wolves present in Michigan’s upper peninsula, with many of them having migrated from Wisconsin and Canada, said Brian Mastenbrook, director of the survey.
There have been multiple reports of lower peninsula wolf sightings in the past, he said.
“We assume (the wolves) are crossing the frozen ice south into the lower peninsula,” Mastenbrook said.
The first wolf was discovered dead in Presque Isle County in 2004 after it was accidentally caught in a trap. Two other wolves were detected by DNR officials in the northern lower peninsula a year later.
Such wolf sightings in the lower peninsula are very rare and should be immediately reported, said Mary Dettloff, DNR public information officer.
“If there are some in the lower peninsula, they are very hard to find,” she said. “If somebody sees one or finds evidence of one, they should contact the Department of Natural Resources and we will send a team of biologists out there to look into it.”
Dettloff said that the wolves, which have suddenly moved into the northern lower peninsula, are most likely looking for food.
That wolves could move as far south as mid-Michigan is not out of the question, said Central Michigan University biology professor Tom Gehring.
“They can travel long ways,” he said. “Whether or not they stay down here is the question.”
Wolves, although rare in the U.S. outside of northern Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and some Rocky Mountain states, can be found as far south as Missouri, Gehring said.
The survey will take place primarily in the northern region of the lower peninsula, but Mastenbrook said to not rule out the possibility of seeing wolves around the Mount Pleasant area.
“Wolves could show up anywhere,” he said.
Wolf sightings can be reported by contacting the DNR office in Gaylord at (989) 732-3541, ext. 5901.