Survey shows increase in state's elk population - WNEM TV 5

Survey shows increase in state's elk population

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Michigan’s elk population is on the rise.

Every other year the Department of Natural Resources conducts a survey to count Michigan’s elk population. They do this by counting the animals from an airplane.

In 2016 the survey took nine days and the planes flew more than 5,000 miles from Indian River east to Onaway and south to Atlanta and back west to Gaylord, according to the DNR.

“Because elk are so large and typically found in groups, they are a great animal to count by airplane. An airplane allows us to cover large areas much quicker than any other method, and it gives us a confident estimate of elk,” said DNR Field Operations Manager Brian Mastenbrook.

The survey estimated 1,040 elk in 2012 and 668 in 2014.

The 2016 survey estimated there are 1,371 elk in the state.

Mastenbrook said the estimated goal for elk is between 500 and 900 animals to reduce crop damage and disease concerns.

“Elk had disappeared from Michigan in the late 1800s, and today’s population is a result of seven elk released in 1918, just outside of Wolverine,” Mastenbrook said.

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