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Wild elk makes rare UP appearance

Multiple sightings of a bull elk have been reported in the south-central Upper Peninsula. Multiple sightings of a bull elk have been reported in the south-central Upper Peninsula. |  Photo: provided by Michigan DNR

Created: June 16, 2020 05:33 PM

The Michigan DNR is investigating recent sightings of a bull elk in the Upper Peninsula, which has not been known to have a wild elk herd in more than a century.

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The sightings have been in Menominee County in the south-central part of the UP. The DNR says several people have reported seeing the bull elk since June 6, with some people also reporting an accompanying cow elk, but only the bull elk has been caught on camera.

The bull elk has an orange ear tag but its numbers cannot be read in the photo that was taken.

The only elk in known to be in the UP are in private facilities, but the DNR says no nearby facilities have reported a missing elk. DNR officials from Michigan and Wisconsin believe the bull elk may have travelled from a herd based near Black River Falls, Wis.

"This is based on their knowledge of some of the Black River elk being reported outside of their typical range over the past couple of months," Michigan DNR wildlife biologist Karen Sexton said in a news release. "It is also based on the color, style and placement of ear tag reported, along with the estimated age of the animal gathered from public reports and photos. We should be able to confirm the origin once we have an accurate report of the ear tag number."

The DNR says elk are known to have a large range and likely move back and forth across the state border.

Michigan's native elk population was destroyed by 1875. A wild herd was established in the northern lower peninsula in 1918 and still exists today, but there is no land connection between the two peninsulas.

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