Tuesday, March 28, 2006

DNR unable to find wolves in northern lower Michigan

By Chris Engle, Editorial Assistant

OTSEGO COUNTY - Preliminary results of a recent survey to determine the presence of gray wolves in the county are showing an absence of the predator, according to the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR). The survey lasted just longer than three weeks before concluding on March 10.

Following tips and leads from county residents, DNR employees studied and photographed tracks in snow and interviewed eyewitnesses about any animals they suspected were wolves. According to Brian Mastenbrook, wildlife biologist and coordinator of the survey, about 40 leads from residents involving track and animal sightings, both recent and old, were investigated. “Any place where there was physical evidence present that we investigated, it turned out to be coyotes or dogs,” said Mastenbrook.

Mastenbrook reported that a concentration of sightings lie south of Old State Road near the Au Sable River. “That area was out of our (survey) range, but we had enough calls from there that we decided to spend a day investigating,” he said. Mark Monroe, wildlife technician at the Gaylord DNR office followed those leads.

DNR employees and volunteers also spent hours driving down back roads after fresh snows had fallen, looking for tracks or animals. This same process is popularly used during wolf surveys in the Upper Peninsula, where a population of approximately 400 wolves exists, according to a recent DNR press release. “We had a good survey and enough days of ideal conditions that we think we were able to do a thorough job,” said Mastenbrook. Final results of the survey have not yet been compiled, but will be made public on the DNR Web site at www.michigan.com/dnr when they have been completed.

The idea of a possible wolf population in northeast Michigan was conceived after a 70-pound female wolf was killed in Presque Isle County in October of 2004 by a trapper who had mistaken the animal for a coyote. The animal had been fitted with a radio tracking collar by the DNR the previous November.

  • Gaylord Herald Times

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