Truck driver claims to have seen wolf

July 13, 2018

By Pat Maurer

Ross Birchman, a recycling company truck driver, contacted the Review this week with a possible wolf sighting.

He said, “July 2nd around 7:25 a.m.

I was heading north on M-66 from U.S. 10. Just south of the Muskegon River a ‘canine’ cross the road heading east. Not a coyote, not a husky, big, with a silvery color. It was panting (tongue out), tail held low, not straight out as it moved.”

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday. “It was a wooded area and it was moving fast.” He said he had reported the sighting to the DNR.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist Jennifer Kleitch said there have been several possible sightings in the northern part of the Lower

Michigan DNR report that in the Lower Peninsula evidence of range expansion came when a wolf was killed in Presque Isle County in 2004.

Michigan DNR report that in the Lower Peninsula evidence of range expansion came when a wolf was killed in Presque Isle County in 2004.

Peninsula since evidence of a wolf was verified in 2015 in the norther part of Emmet County. “We have had reports of sightings since in the northern area, but they haven’t been verified.

“Anyone who would like to report a possible sighting or tracks should go to the Michigan DNR site: She said, “If there is any evidence like tracks or photos we would appreciate a report on that website. Photos of tracks should be taken with a ruler next to the print. I monitor that website for reports in the Lower Peninsula.”

A 9 & 10 post on the internet said that the DNR had confirmed reports of a pack of wolves in Northern Cheboygan County in 2010. Wildlife Specialist Keith Swanson reportedly said there was a second spotting in Emmet County in 2015 near Petoskey.

The DNR held a Lower Peninsula Wolf Survey between February 16 and March 13 of 2015 according to their website post by Ammoland Inc.

It said, “Wolves began naturally returning to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula through Canada and Wisconsin in the early 1990s. Since that time populations have increased and their range continues to expand. Evidence of range expansion into the Lower Peninsula came when a gray wolf was accidentally killed in Presque Isle County in 2004.”

The UP wolf population was estimated at 20 in 1992. More recently it has increased to over 600 according to the DNR survey.

A mLive post in September of 2015 by Gene Ellison said, “Genetic testing has confirmed the long-held belief by some that gray wolves have moved into Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, although there’s not yet evidence of breeding population, say state officials.”

He wrote that is was “the second confirmed presence of a gray wolf in the Lower Peninsula since 1910.” The first was confirmed in 2004 when a coyote trapper accidently killed a gray wolf that was wearing a collar showing it had been captured in Mackinac County.

Ellison wrote that genetic testing of male wolf scat samples found in April 2015 “closely match northeast Ontario wolves.”

His article also said that trail camera had captured images of a wolf around the same time. “The DNR believes wolves may have traveled across the frozen Straits of Mackinac to reach the Lower Peninsula.”

According to the 2015 DNR Michigan wolf management plan, “In January of 2012, wolves in Michigan were removed from the Federal List of Threatened and Endangered Species.” They were classified as game animals once in 2012, again in 2013 and legislation was introduced for the classification in August of 2014. In December of that year, a Federal court decision returned wolves in the western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment to the Federal List of Threatened and Endangered Species, the fifth time that the legal status of wolves changed in Michigan since 2008.

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