HomeTop StoriesHunter kills gray wolf in southwestern Michigan, while the state's known population...

Hunter kills gray wolf in southwestern Michigan, while the state’s known population is in the Upper Peninsula

CALHOUN COUNTY, MI (CBS DETROIT) – A hunter in southwestern Michigan thought he had harvested a coyote, but genetic testing revealed the animal was actually a gray wolf.

In January, the Calhoun County hunter accompanied by a guide came across the animal during a legal coyote hunt. He believed it was a large coyote, according to a news release from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The animal weighed 84 pounds, while eastern coyotes typically weigh 25 to 40 pounds.

The DNR conducted genetic testing, which revealed the animal was a gray wolf, the first time the species has been found in that part of the state since the early 1900s.

Wolves used to be present throughout Michigan, but are now found almost exclusively in the Upper Peninsula. They are an endangered species and can only be killed if they pose a threat to human life.

While the DNR is investigating the presence of this wolf in Calhoun County, officials do not believe it was part of an established population.

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“This is an unusual case and the DNR is actively investigating the case to learn more about the origins of this particular animal,” said Brian Roell, large carnivore specialist for the DNR. “Although rare, cases of wolves traveling great distances have been documented, including evidence of wolves in recent decades in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.”

The public should not worry about an increased wolf population in Calhoun County or the rest of the Lower Peninsula. Due to the investigation, the DNR says they will not be releasing any photos of the wolf at this time.

The DNR says data from collared wolves shows that wolves can move thousands of miles and sometimes reach areas well outside their normal range. In 2005, an Upper Peninsula wolf was killed in Presque Isle County.

Tracks typical of “wolf-like animals” were found in Cheboygan and Emmet counties in 2011 and 2015, and in 2014 a wolf was captured on camera at Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.

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A 2019 track survey showed no signs of wolves near Calhoun County. A new rail survey is planned for 2025.

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