The Wildlife of Lake Gogebic
Wildlife can easily be spotted in our forests and around the lake. Different species are more visible, of course, at different times of the year – but, if you are patient, you will be richly rewarded. A walk in the woods (or even a boat ride around the shore) will produce an eyeful. Just remember that this is their home, too, and some can be dangerous. Please don’t feed the wildlife – they need their natural foods to survive.
There are plenty of black bear, but they are usually shy. Don’t get between a mother and her cub or a bear and food. Whitetail deer are very common – so common that care must be taken while driving a car or snowmobile. We do have an occasional moose. Coyotes and fisher require patience to see. Bobcats roam the forests and hills. River otters frolic in the lake, but most often can be seen near mouths of rivers and streams.
The gray wolves that currently roam Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. According to the Department of Natural Resources, there is at least one wolf pack on the west side of the lake that roams north across Highway M-28. There is another pack southwest of the lake that roams south across Highway US-2. There are also individual wolves, referred to as “lone dispersed” wolves that roam in the area east of Lake Gogebic.
The shores of Lake Gogebic are a great nesting area for the bald eagle. Look high in the trees or sky while boating and you’ll likely spot several. The adult eagles are easier to spot because of their white heads. Many migrating ducks use the lake as a stopping off spot. As soon as the ice breaks up, rafts of Redheads, Scaups, Goldeneyes, Buffleheads and some geese flock in. The Mergansers, Wood Ducks and Mallards stay all summer.
Game birds such as Partridge and Woodcock are quite plentiful. More common birds are Finches, Grosbeaks, Chickadees, Red Polls, Nuthatches, three kinds of Woodpeckers, and Hummingbirds. A Hummingbird can find your feeder within minutes of putting it out. It is a treat to see the Orioles for the week or so they show up. The Blue Indigo appears like a jewel and is gone in a flash. Many varieties of Sparrows come and go. Brown Creepers, Jays, Doves, Warblers, Vircos, Bluebirds and Crossbills will enjoy a birdfeeder. Cardinals are being seen more frequently. A biologist for the Ottawa National Forest, conducted Christmas bird counts for this area and has accounted for over 30 species. Snowshoe and Cottontail Rabbits, Skunks, Beaver, Raccoons, Weasels/Ermine, Pine Martens, Mink, Gray and Red Fox, Peregrine Falcons, Kangaroo Mice, and many, many more species of wildlife live here. Come and enjoy the experience.
For information on birding hotspots, wilderness or recreational opportunities, contact any Ottawa National Forest district office or the supervisor’s office: 2100 E. Cloverland Drive, Ironwood, MI 49938, phone (906) 932-1330. The Ottawa National Forest Visitor Center at the corner of US-2 and M-45 in Watersmeet offers programs throughout the year for wildlife enthusiasts.