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Harvest Tracking

The Sault Tribe Wildlife Program tracks harvest through the Inland Harvest Report process. Each year, the Wildlife Program publishes a harvest and effort summary as well as a variety of other harvest management related documents at www.saulttribe.com.

In 2019, Sault Tribe issued over 50,000 individual licenses and permits to 4,514 members. Sault Tribe members harvested 53 species of fish and wildlife with an estimated total harvest of over 108,000 animals. This harvest reporting and the data it provides is crucial to protection of the tribe’s treaty rights.

One of the most popular species targeted by Sault Tribe hunters is white-tailed deer. In 2019, 4,149 Sault Tribe members harvested approximately 2,563 deer. This is slightly less than the 10-year average of 2,939.


The Wildlife Program has a variety of wildlife assessment and habitat restoration and management projects that are ongoing. Three wildlife program initiatives are focused on assessing ruffed grouse habitat use in the face of climate change, understanding ecological response to prescribed fire and St. Mary’s River coastal marsh restoration.

Assessing Ruffed Grouse Habitat

Since 2018, the Wildlife Program has been using a variety of methods to study habitat use of ruffed grouse in the eastern Upper Peninsula. Work has been focused on understanding new ways to manage ruffed grouse given projected changes in climate. Much of grouse habitat management in the Upper Great Lakes Region is focused on promotion of early successional aspen stands. Aspen, however, is considered to be highly vulnerable to projected changes in climate.

The department’s work has focused on using GPS transmitters to collect precise information about movement patterns of ruffed grouse. Staff is pairing this information with detailed information about the vegetation from those areas and information derived from satellite imagery to understand the relationship between ruffed grouse movement and forest characteristics. The department is in its second year of field data collection and the project will run through the end of 2021. This work is funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative through the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Tribal Wildlife Grant Program through the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, in partnership with the Hiawatha National Forest and MSU.

Understanding Ecological Response to Fire

In 2018, Sault Tribe Wildlife began working with the Hiawatha National Forest, the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan and MSU to develop an new adaptive management plan for prescribed fire that seek to integrate Sault Tribe priories in to the Hiawatha National Forest’s fire management process. The ITC-MI conducted interviews with Sault Tribe community members to understand traditional knowledge regarding fire and fire management techniques. This information will be used alongside a variety of wildlife and vegetation information to develop fire prescriptions that will be implemented on the Hiawatha National Forest.

Coastal Marsh Restoration in the St. Mary’s River

Since 2011, the Sault Tribe Wildlife Program has been engaged in collaborative invasive species management in the St. Mary’s River, specifically focused on the management of invasive cattail, European frogbit and purple loosestrife. The Wildlife Program, in coordination with university partners, has worked to better understand effective management of invasive species as well as explored using technology (i.e., drones) for detection and monitoring of invasive species. The purpose of this work has been to improve migratory bird and waterfowl habitat in order to improve subsistence harvest opportunities for the Sault Tribe community.

Building on past partnerships focused on invasive species management within the St. Mary’s River, the Sault Tribe Wildlife Program continued work to restore coastal marsh habitat in the St. Mary’s River during 2019. Following up on an initial seeding effort implemented in 2018, the Wildlife Program monitored a pilot manoomin (wild rice, Zizania palustris) restoration effort in Munuscong Bay. During 2019, manoomin successfully germinated and matured in a majority of small plots in which it was seeded. During the fall of 2019, a follow-up seeding of the pilot plots was conducted. The Sault Tribe Wildlife Program plans to seed the openings for at least 3-7 consecutive years. In the future, the Wildlife Program plans to expand manoomin restoration efforts across the 1836 Treaty Ceded Territory.

Center for Cooperative Ecological Resilience

After a decade of close collaboration between the Sault Tribe Wildlife Program and the Applied Forest and Wildlife Ecology Laboratory at Michigan State University (MSU), in 2019 their working relationship was formalized by a memorandum of understanding, which created the jointly-led Center for Cooperative Ecological Resilience.

Currently, CCER is co-led by Dr. Gary Roloff (MSU-Department of Fisheries and Wildlife) and Eric Clark (Lead wildlife biologist - Sault Tribe Natural Resources Department). The over-arching goals of this collaborative are to increase Sault Tribe Natural Resources Department capacity through strategic engagement with academic researchers while concurrently providing graduate education opportunities for Sault Tribe members.

In its first year, the center continued its work on fire ecology, snowshoe hare and American marten. It received funding to begin working on restoration in important lowland conifer complexes with a focus on regenerating northern white cedar as a culturally and ecologically important species.

Public Information

See the program’s Instagram posts at “saulttribewildife” and Facebook posts at “Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians - Wildlife Program.”

NEW! Online Field Guide! Get it here: 2019-2020 IFWD Guide

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Photo by Ken Bosma / CC BY