Loon is out, elk is in as Michigan ushers in new wildlife license plates

A new wildlife license plate, available Dec. 1, celebrates 100 years since the reintroduction of elk in Michigan. Purchase of the new plate will continue to support wildlife habitat. (Courtesty of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

Celebrating the upcoming 100th anniversary of the return of elk to the wilds of Michigan, the state is adopting a new wildlife plate.

The new plate featuring an elk will be available starting Dec. 1, replacing the loon plates that have raised millions for wildlife habitat in Michigan since their adoption in 2006. Those who purchase the plates pay an extra amount each year that goes to the state Department of Natural Resources to support wildlife habitat.

Anyone with a loon plate can keep it of course. But new plates with the loon will no longer be available after Nov. 30, the Department of Natural Resources said in a written announcement on the change.

“We are excited for the changing of the guard,” Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason said in the announcement. “The loon license plate has had a long run, and helped to raise over $2.6 million for wildlife habitat since 2006.”

Once common in Michigan, elk had disappeared from the state in the 1800s due to unregulated take and lack of habitat. In 1918, seven elk were brought from the western United States to Wolverine, Michigan. To mark that return and today's healthy population in the state, the natural resources department is planning celebrations throughout next year.

“All funds from the sale of the elk license plate will continue to help wildlife management,” Mason said. “This funding is extremely important because it helps all wildlife.”

A new license plate can be purchased from the Secretary of State at any time for $35. The additional $10 specialty license plate fee is charged annually when drivers renew their registration, and those proceeds are given directly to the DNR.

Specialty license plates can be purchased by mail, fax or at any Secretary of State branch office. To purchase a plate by mail or fax, complete and print the Wildlife Habitat License Plate Order Form. The plate will be mailed within 14 business days.

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