Support for Arctic Grayling Research

Independent foundation to support Michigan’s Arctic Grayling Initiative research project.

The Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Division was recently awarded a $180,000 grant from the Henry E. and Consuelo S. Wenger Foundation to support an upcoming research project as part of Michigan’s Arctic Grayling Initiative.

This initiative is a statewide partnership effort focused on restoring self-sustaining populations of this native fish and was founded by the DNR and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians (LRBOI) in June 2016. The partnership includes more than 40 organizations.

The grant will support a research project that will determine effective rearing methods and identify fish community settings where Arctic Grayling reintroductions are more likely to succeed. It will also gain insight into potential impediments to successful reintroduction. The funds will be spread over three years and the research will be led by Michigan State University.

“It’s very exciting to be able to support research that we hope will directly impact Michigan’s ability to reintroduce Arctic Grayling,” said Charles Wilson, a member of the Henry E. and Consuelo S. Wenger Foundation’s board. “We can’t wait to see what the next three years brings and the valuable knowledge that will be gained through this project.”

There will be three studies within this project supported by the foundation: (1) a predation study that will look at the effects of smaller size classes of resident trout (such as brook and brown trout) on survival of Arctic Grayling fry as they enter the stream environment; (2) a competition study that will assess behavioral interactions between young resident trout (such as brook and brown trout) and Arctic Grayling in an artificial stream environment and habitat use by Arctic Grayling in the absence and presence of these potential predators; and (3) an imprinting study that will determine if Arctic Grayling develop a preference for their “home water” during the period when fish are reared in a remote stream incubator.

Some of the funds will support researchers traveling to Alaska to pick up Arctic Grayling eggs which will be used within the previously described studies and help to establish Michigan’s future broodstock program.

“We are so honored to have the support of several organizations who believe in the mission of Michigan’s Arctic Grayling Initiative,” said DNR Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter. “This support is critical and invaluable to our future success.”

This is the third grant awarded to support the reintroduction of Arctic Grayling. The first came from the Consumers Energy Foundation to the tune of $117,000 to support identifying prime northern Michigan streams for this work and the second was a $10,000 grant from Rotary Charities of Traverse City to facilitate a fund development strategy.

For more information on Michigan’s Arctic Grayling Initiative, please visit

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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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