Click on the titles and images below for illustrations and information about Michigan’s vast population of wildlife.
The beaver provided the resource that first attracted European settlers to Michigan. Their furs were so popular and so in demand that the beaver almost disappeared from the Michigan landscape. Today, they are found in virtually all parts of the state, much to the dismay of some humans, who battle with them over rights to keep water flowing through road culverts and other places.
Little Brown Bat
Probably the most common bat in the United States, the little brown bat ranges from Alaska to Newfoundland south to a line from southern California to southern Georgia. In spite of its habit of eating hoards of insects, many people don't relish the idea of having bats in the neighborhood. Others, however, recognize their value to us and go to extra effort to attract them.
The "American bear," as its scientific name implies, occupies a wide range across North America. In Michigan, it is found in the Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula. Michigan's bear population is estimated at between 15,000 and 19,000 - most of them in the U.P. Mature black bears range in size from under 100 lbs. to over 500, the males being generally larger than the females.
The bobcat is our most common native cat. Although bobcats can be found in all parts of the state, they are rarely seen, because their activities are mostly nocturnal or crepuscular (early morning and evening). Their food is primarily rodents and rabbits, with some ground birds, small deer, reptiles, and even insects.
Bobcat populations in the northern two-thirds of Michigan are quite healthy; open seasons for hunting and trapping are available in most years.
The chickadee is a friendly little bird of the northern forest. It is the state bird of Maine and Massachusetts and has been proposed as a replacement for Michigan's state bird, the robin. It is a year-round Michigan resident and seems to enjoy cold weather and snow.
The white-tail is Michigan's most popular big game animal. Deer are found in all parts of the state - even in suburban areas, where their numbers sometimes are surprisingly high. They have learned how to co-exist with people quite nicely, feeding on ornamental shrubs and blower gardens when people are away at work.
Sometimes called "the big game of the small boy," this wild rabbit is found in most of Michigan. The cottontail is familiar to country and city dwellers alike, as it does well in close association with people. In the Upper Peninsula it is able to make a living in town, but is seldom found in the woods, where the deep snows favor its cousin the snowshoe hare.
The bald eagle, our national emblem, is a most impressive bird. Soaring on 4-foot wings with white head and tail shining in the sun, it is a thrilling sight - and one that is becoming more and more common in Michigan. Michigan's eagle population declined through the first part of the twentieth century in response to habitat loss, human encroachment and pesticide, but today its numbers are rebounding well.