Wolf population changes in Michigan

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


This chapter chronicles changes in wolf abundance and identifies the significant events in gray wolf ( Canis lupus ) management in Michigan from the early 1800s to present (Table 5.1 ). We recognize three important time periods. Initially, populations declined (1817 1959) due to public policy that sought to eliminate wolves. During the second period (1960 1988), wolves struggled to maintain their existence in the state. Public policy changed and wolves were granted legal protection. Despite this protection and an increasing shift in public attitudes that favored wolves (and the environment in general), a minority of Michigan residents evidently prevented wolves from reestablishing a population. During the third period (1989 present), wolves staged a remarkable comeback. The speed of their recovery surprised even those charged with aiding it. Although many credit a shift in public attitudes as the primary reason for this recovery, perhaps not enough credit has been given to the resiliency of wolves. This chapter focuses on wolf population changes on the mainland of Michigan. Information on the wolves occupying Isle Royale can be found in Vucetich and Peterson (this volume). Also, information on trends in wolf depredation of livestock during the period of population recovery may be found in Ruid et al. (this volume).

Publication Title

Recovery of Gray Wolves in the Great Lakes Region of the United States: An Endangered Species Success Story