MICHIGAN (WPBN/WGTU) -- Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials have finished the annual elk survey.
During the 2018 elk hunting season 146 elk were harvested during the two portions of the season, according to the DNR.
To get a better idea of how many elk are left in the Michigan forests, the DNR conducted an elk survey in January.
“Our population goal for elk is between 500 and 900 animals. This has been determined as the best balance for the forests, area agriculture and residents,” Michigan DNR elk specialist Chad Stewart said. “Besides having an estimated population, knowing where they are located is also very important.”
A DNR plane flies predetermined routes to locate the elk. Once they find a group, the plane circles while observers count the elk.
834 elk were sighted over nine days, so the DNR is estimating the elk population to be around 1,196 elk.
"No wildlife survey can count 100 percent of the animals because they move and are often under cover like trees, so a formula is used to establish a population estimate," according to the DNR.
“Based on this survey, past surveys, damage concerns and disease issues, we will continue to reduce the elk population slowly over the coming years with our regulated hunting seasons,” DNR Wildlife Field Operations Manager Brian Mastenbrook said.