Elk In Michigan: Everything You Need To Know About Them

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Amin Tawar

Elk In Michigan
Elk In Michigan: Everything You Need To Know About Them

There are only a few other states that inhabit endangered animals as much as Michigan. Home to a range of endangered or threatened wildlife, Michigan’s landscapes protect critical wildlife creatures and corridors through the management of its 73 state parks.

But do these landscapes house Elk? Below I’ve explained everything you need to know about the Elk’s presence in the state.

Are There Any Elk in Michigan?

Yes, There are elk in Michigan. These are one of the largest deer species, the second largest to be precise followed by moose. The only difference between the two is their size. 

Typically, your common North American elk will have a brown muzzle and tan skin supported by 2 big antlers. Pretty much the size of a sheep, they are less solitary when compared to their cousins in the deer family. 

Surprisingly, compared to elk, moose have a better population and presence in Michigan, which brings us to our next topic…

How Many Elk Are in Michigan?

As per the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, there are roughly about 1000 individual elk in Michigan state. The state department constantly monitors the elk population to ensure their survival in the state.

Occupying the bottom of the food triangle, elks have an important role to play in their ecosystem. If there is a loss in their population, this will affect the predators in their ecosystem. So, maintaining, and stabilizing the elk population is important, especially in Michigan where the existing elk population is due to restoration.

What types of elk are in Michigan?

Elk is a native to the state of Michigan and have been living in the state for thousands of years. But after European colonization, their numbers drastically swindled downwards. And by the late 1800s, there were just a handful of elk left in the state. 

The original type of elk found in Michigan is the North American elk called as wapiti. And after their population dwindled downwards, the state introduced a population of Rocky Mountain elks which are in fact subspecies of North American elk. Today the population has grown considerably into thousands of individuals.

Are there elk in Michigan’s upper peninsula?

Elk In Michigan
Elk In Michigan: Everything You Need To Know About Them

Yes, There are elk in the upper peninsula of the state. Elk was re-introduced both in the upper and lower peninsula of Michigan to expand and restore the elk population in the state. 

In the upper peninsula, you can find these resilient creatures in parts of Marquette County especially in and around Baraga state forest. 

It is important to note that the elk population in the upper peninsula is lower than those in the lower peninsula. Additionally, elk in the upper peninsula mostly occupy remote and less accessible areas. This, therefore, makes it difficult to spot elk in this part of the state. But you could spot them with proper guidance and research.

Also Check Our Guide On Elk In Maryland

Where Can I See Elk in Michigan?

Historically, elk in Michigan roamed almost all the regions of Michigan. But due to extensive and unregulated hunting and habitat loss, their range is now contracted only to a few parts. In fact, it was only after the restoration of their population that most are being sighted in the wild landscapes of the state.

Currently, you can see elk in the lower and upper peninsula of the state. But the largest concentration of the population is in the Pigeon River Country State Forest located in the northern part of the lower peninsula. 

Did you know, there are about 13 designated elk viewing areas in this forest? Yes, the place is famous for elk viewing and each year a flock of visitors come to the place just for that.

Best Time to See Elk in Michigan?

Elk like most of the wild creatures are active during the breeding season which is in September and October. They roam around the grasslands and forests in search of mates. 

And therefore, this is the best time to view them in their habitat. Just remember to maintain at least a 100-yard distance away from them and do use Binoculars. To make it easier, visit them during dusk or dawn when they are more active.

What County Are Elk in Michigan?

It is important to note that the animal population in general is never uniformly distributed across any area. It tends to vary based on the time of the year and is affected by weather changes and human presence. This is also the case with elk in Michigan.

While these creatures are found in many counties, their presence is majorly in the counties of the northern lower peninsula. Montmorency County is home to the largest population of elk and is quite a famous destination for elk viewing and hunting. Additionally, you can spot these creatures in Cheboygan County, Otsego County, and Alpena County.

Can You Hunt & Shoot Elk in Michigan?

Yes, It is legal to hunt and shoot elk in Michigan provided you have valid hunting and shooting license. 

Elk hunting is quite a sought-out sport in the state of Michigan. In fact, about 36,000 hunters apply for a chance to hunt these creatures every year. So, before you apply for it, go through the procedure and application format to familiarize yourself with the procedure.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources issues about 100 to 200 elk licenses each year. These licenses cannot be bought directly and are available only through drawing. You can apply for an elk license without a base license but if you are chosen in the drawing, you need to purchase a base license along with an elk hunting receipt.

In general, about 1 to 2 closed hunting seasons are organized in the state by the state department. This year there are two. After you are chosen, and you have purchased the required licenses and receipts don’t forget to go through the rules and regulations for elk hunting.

Also Read Our guide On Elks In America

Can a non-resident hunt elk in Michigan?

Unfortunately, non-residents cannot hunt elk in Michigan. Elk licenses are issued only to residents of Michigan state and only they can hunt elk. As laws and regulations tend to change with time. 

It may be possible for non-residents to hunt elk in the future. So, do check the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website for the latest hunting and shooting rules and regulations to keep yourselves updated.


And that was everything you need to know about the Elk In Michigan. I hope this article answered all your queries.

Thank You For Reading!

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