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Michigan at a glance

Gray wolves once existed throughout Michigan. However, removal began shortly after European settlement. Wolves were removed primarily through poisoning between 1838 and 1960. Within a few years after their protection under the Endangered Species Act, wolves began immigrating from Wisconsin, and in 1991 a wolf pack was confirmed to be reproducing in Michigan.

In December 2014 they were relisted on the Endangered Species Act in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. For more on this topic, see this story on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website.

The wolf’s main prey there are deer, elk, moose and beaver. Wolf range is approximately 25 percent of the map shown, including 90 percent of the Upper Peninsula and 100 percent on Isle Royale, which is not shown. Range lines are not depicted.


Satellite image of Lake Superior with Isle Royale located near the northwestern shore.

Isle Royale is an island in northwestern Lake Superior. This island is 44.5 miles (71.8 km) long and 8.3 miles (13.4 km) at its widest, with an area of 210 square miles (544 square km). In this national park, no year-around human inhabitants are allowed. However, the island is a permanent home to wolves and moose. Wolf research began on the island in 1958 and has continued as the longest continuous study of wolves in the world.

The wolf population on Isle Royale is down to two individuals. NPCA and Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute held a public forum in Minneapolis June 20, 2013. The purpose was to bring experts together to discuss the causes behind why the population is dwindling, including climate change and disease, and what the potential responses are, including intervention and non-intervention. Panelists included Dr. Rolf Peterson, the lead researcher of the wolf-moose study on the island, Dr. Dave Mech, former wolf researcher at the island, Dr. Tim Cochrane, an Isle Royale researcher, and Mr. Kevin Proescholdt with Wilderness Watch.

By 2018, the National Park Service decided to reintroduce up to 30 wolves to Isle Royale. About 1,600 moose inhabit the island (as of 2018) and there was concern that the moose population, left unchecked by wolves, could overbrowse the island’s vegetation. For more, see this story.


Species Information



Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment (delisted area) and wolf range.

Common Name: gray wolf, timber wolf
Latin Name: Canis lupus

Potential species designation under debate by the scientific community
Common Name: eastern wolf, timber wolf
Latin Name: Canis lupus lycaon or Canis lycaon

Location: C. lupus and the potential C. lycaon are indistinguishable from each other physically, behaviorally and ecologically. The only way to tell the difference between them is a genetic test and comparison. Both inhabit the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Current Wolf Population, Trend, Status
Number of wolves: 618 (as of 2016), not including 2 on Isle Royale (as of 2018)
Population trend: Stable (steady on Isle Royale)
Legal status: Endangered, federally protected (as of December 19, 2014)

Human Relationships

Recovery and Management


  • Visit the USDA APHIS Wildlife Services site for information on how the federal government manages depredating wildlife, resolves conflict between wildlife and humans and for contact information by state.





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