The Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, announced a proposed initiative in June 2016 that aims to bring back an extirpated species to the state – Arctic grayling.  The Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative seeks to establish self-sustaining populations of this species throughout its historical range in Michigan. The initiative has more than 45 partners collaborating on the reintroduction.

The next steps include identifying interest and abilities of partners, collecting baseline data, initiating the building of broodstock and stocking efforts. The Manistee River watershed, once known as a premier grayling river, will be the first location for reintroduction.

The DNR will work closely with partners as the proposed Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative moves forward. The Little River Band, located in Manistee County, has been engaged in extensive research for potential grayling reintroduction for several years.

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Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative © 2019  All Rights Reserved
MANAGEMENT 

The ultimate vision of grayling reintroduction is to establish self-sustaining populations capable of supporting a fishery. This will require specific management actions aimed at achieving specific long-term goals to succeed. 

 

Collaboration among tribal, federal, state, academic and angler group partners will be important to assess fish communities and habitat conditions in streams throughout the grayling’s historic range.That said, the partners agree to not chemically reclaim streams for the purpose of establishing grayling populations. Criteria will be developed to determine what habitat and biological conditions provide the best opportunities for reintroduction, and these criteria will assist all partners in standardizing sampling methods for new fish and habitat assessments.

This reintroduction program will use an adaptive management approach based on continued assessments, research findings and public input. Stocking strategies and regulations will change accordingly as partners work together to share information and further enhance management efforts. Habitat enhancement may become a new focus for the initiative if population expansion becomes a reality.

 

Management Goals:

 

  1. Evaluate key habitat criteria for grayling.

  2. Assess suitable grayling habitat in the Upper Manistee River and other high suitability watersheds.

  3. Assess fish populations and densities in the Upper Manistee River.

  4. Establish population goals and limiting factors.

  5. Change state statute to legalize fishing for grayling.

  6. Implement regulation changes to aid in grayling reintroduction and manage future fishing opportunities for grayling.

  7. Determine final disposition of surplus broodstock as necessary.

For more detailed information on the Management Focus Area, please view the Action Plan section for Management.

Young Arctic Grayling viewed under water
A grayling caught by an angler (then immediately released)
Watersheds To Be Considered for Reintroduction

The Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative is prepared to receive your recommendations for potential watersheds. Ideally, interested parties would seek others in the partnership to team up with and solicit community support (at the local and county government level and with other local organizations).  

 

If you wish to discuss watershed nomination for Arctic grayling reintroduction, contact Jay Wesley at wesleyj@michigan.gov.

A grayling caught by an angler (then immediately released)