This year marks 100 years since elk were reintroduced to Michigan after their eradication in the late 1800’s.
In 1918 seven rocky mountain elk were brought to Cheboygan County. Since then the small herd has grown to a population of nearly 1,200 wild elk.
Jack Matthias owns Thunder Bay Resort and a herd of nearly 50 elk which he showcases on viewing tours. He said elk have a major impact on the local economy, and without them he doesn’t think he’d be in business.
“Northeast Michigan doesn’t really kind of have the natural snowfall that the northwest has, and we don’t have the terrain for downhill. So, it’s been historically very difficult for people to bring any number of visitors into our region in the winter time and that’s actually how this started”.
State officials are celebrating the healthy abundant herd by replacing the wildlife charity license plate displaying a loon with one featuring an elk.
They said the animal’s success is the result of good land management and increased law enforcement.