This AROUND MICHIGAN update from the Northern Lower Peninsula appears in the Fall 2016 issue of Michigan Out-of-Doors. AROUND MICHIGAN is a regular department which highlights conservation news from "two peninsulas and four Great Lakes."
Elk management is a partnership effort with the Department of Natural Resources.
In March, they commenced a joint study with Michigan State University under the leadership of Professor Rique Campa, of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Researchers netted and fitted collars to close to 40 elk both within the Pigeon River Country and further east toward Atlanta.
They also set trail cams and are conducting surveys to determine the impact that recreational activities, specifically mountain biking and horseback riding, have on elk movement.
The study will last for three years, after which the radio collars are programmed to fall off the elk.
In June, volunteers from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Michigan United Conservation Clubs' On the Ground (OTG) program partnered to plant mast-bearing trees, like oak, around elk clearings close to a mile from the nearest open road.
The clearings provide elk refuge and an open area where bulls like to herd cows; the trees, when mature, will provide additional food resources in that area. Volunteers spread mulch around the trees, watered them, and installed fencing to protect the saplings from elk rubs.
The project was organized by the DNR's Huron Pines AmeriCorps member Hunter Fodor, MUCC Wildlife Volunteer Coordinator Sarah Topp, and RMEF Michigan State Chair Dan Johnson. It was the third year in a row that RMEF and MUCC teamed up for elk habitat in the Pigeon River Country.
RMEF is hosting its State Rendezvous in the Pigeon River Country September 9-11 at the Johnson's Crossing campground, where they will perform a yet-to-be-determined wildlife volunteer project on Saturday, Sept. 10.
The January 2016 elk survey yielded an estimate of 1,372 elk in northern Michigan, well above its 500-900 elk goal in the Michigan Elk Management Plan. Accordingly, the Natural Resources Commission increased the elk licenses available this year.