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 50 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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UV system in place, Oden hatchery readings for Arctic grayling

Michigan is one step closer to bringing Arctic grayling back to state waters. The ultraviolet water disinfection system at Oden State Fish Hatchery in Emmet County has been installed, meaning the facility is ready to welcome juvenile Arctic grayling.

“With the completion of this project, we can protect the fish populations in the inland waterway – the series of rivers and inland lakes that the rearing water flows into – from any pathogens that may inadvertently arrive with these fish,” said Ed Eisch, the DNR’s fish production manager. “We don’t anticipate any issues, but we definitely want to err on the conservative side when it comes to the possibility of introducing new pathogens.”


The UV system is critical for the long-term process of cultivating Michigan’s Arctic grayling broodstock (mature fish used for breeding), a goal of the Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative.

This project was generously supported through grants and donations by private donors. More than $350,000 was raised to upgrade Oden’s isolated rearing facility, including engineering and construction costs.


Major gifts were granted by the Henry E. and Consuelo S. Wenger Foundation, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Trout Unlimited, the DNR, Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation, Oleson Foundation, Rotary Charities of Traverse City, Friends of the Jordan River Watershed and supporters of the Little Traverse Conservancy.


The Arctic grayling will arrive at Oden State Fish Hatchery in early August. These fish were collected as eggs in Alaska in May and have been housed at Michigan State University since their arrival in the state. This is the first in a series of three year classes of fish that will make up the founding broodstock for the Arctic grayling effort.


The juvenile fish will be reared in isolation at Oden and, once cleared by fish health testing, transferred to Marquette State Fish Hatchery to continue maturing.

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