History of Moose 

in Michigan

aerial photo of two mooseMoose are native to Michigan and occurred throughout all except the southwestern Lower Peninsula prior to European settlement. Moose disappeared from the Lower Peninsula in the 1890s, and only a few scattered individuals remained in the Upper Peninsula.
The interaction of several factors probably caused the decline of moose in Michigan. Extensive logging during the early 20th century eliminated millions
 of acres of moose habitat. Loggers, miners and other
 settlers also took these large animals for food. Another
 factor thought to have contributed to the decline of the
 population was brainworm (Parelaphostrongylus tenuis),
a nematode carried by white-tailed deer. Although the
brainworm has little effect on white-tailed deer, it can
 cause a fatal neurological disease in moose. As the
 Michigan deer population expanded rapidly in the
more open and brushy habitat created by the logging
 and forest fires that followed European settlement,
the incidence of brainworm in the moose population
 likely increased.
The state's first attempt to reintroduce moose in the
Upper Peninsula mainland occurred from 1934 to 1937,
when biologists trapped and transported 71 moose from
 Isle Royale to the mainland. Most of these moose were
 released in Keweenaw, Marquette and Schoolcraft
 counties. Of the remaining moose, officials sent two to
the Detroit Zoo and six to the Cusino Wildlife Experimental
 Station for study of basic moose biology. These studies
 revealed information on the dates of the rutting season,
gestation period, rate of growth from birth to maturity,
types of food eaten and food preferences, and antler
development. At the time of capture, the Isle Royale
 moose population was very high and moose had
depleted the forage on the island. As a result, moose
 brought to the mainland were in poor physical condition,
 and some developed serious infections after release.
 Many of the introduced moose died from what was
 described at the time as "circling disease," most likely
 caused by the brainworm parasite. Although citizens
 reported observing moose across the Upper Peninsula
in 1941, poaching continued as a threat to the population.
 The poor condition of the translocated moose, combined
with poaching and high deer numbers, contributed to the
failure of this initial attempt to reintroduce moose on the

During the 1950s and 1960s, citizens occasionally observed
 moose in the Upper Peninsula, primarily in the eastern
 counties. In the 1970s, biologists recognized changes in
the Upper Peninsula that were promising for moose. Most
 notable was a decline in deer numbers in the northern
 portions of the Upper Peninsula.
In the mid-1980s, the DNR translocated 59 moose from
Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada and released
them in Marquette County. The goal of the moose reintroduction
 was to produce a self-sustaining population of free-ranging
 moose in the Upper Peninsula.
All of these moose were fitted with mortality-sensing radio
 collars to help monitor the outcome of the reintroduction.
The translocated moose population increased through the
 late 1980s and early 1990s in spite of a few losses each
 year to brainworm and several other natural causes,
 including falls off cliffs, fights during the rut and
 complications while giving birth. Calf production and
 survival through the first year of life were very good,
confirming that the habitat was suitable. Poaching losses
 were virtually nonexistent, perhaps because the citizens
 of the Upper Peninsula were involved with the project and
 had adopted the new moose population as their own.
Moose are currently found in two areas of the Upper
Peninsula: the reintroduced population in Marquette,
Baraga and Iron counties, and a smaller remnant
 population in the eastern UP, found primarily in Alger,
 Schoolcraft, Luce and Chippewa counties.
During the most recent moose population survey in
January 2011, the DNR counted an estimated 433
animals in the western Upper Peninsula. No formal
survey of the eastern U.P. moose population is
conducted, but local biologists estimate there are
 about 100 animals, based on field observations
and reports from the general public.