DNR extends northwest Minnesota elk hunt

The need to manage the size of northwest Minnesota’s elk population and control depredation has prompted the Department of Natural Resources to extend the elk hunt beginning Saturday.

The DNR announced the season extension this morning in a news release.

“Our rules for the 2012-2013 elk hunt authorized an extended season if harvest goals were not met during the regular seasons,” Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader for the DNR in St. Paul, said in a statement. “We are committed to managing these populations at levels identified within the management plan. We need to take additional animals to keep us moving in that direction.”

Hunters shot only six elk during the September and December hunts — well below the 23-elk quota the DNR established to meet population goals and address depredation concerns.

Elk hunters who were selected to participate in either the Grygla or Kittson Central zones but did not shoot an elk can hunt their zones during the extended season. In the Kittson Central zone, hunters will be restricted by time period and will be scheduled to hunt one four-day period — either Saturday through Tuesday or Thursday through Jan. 20. They cannot hunt during both time periods.

Hunters in the Grygla zone will be allowed to hunt the full nine-day period from Saturday through Jan. 20.

Elk are native to Minnesota but were extirpated from the state in the early 20th century. They were reintroduced into the state in the 1930s, and elk in recent years have immigrated from Manitoba to Minnesota.

Two small herds exist in northwest Minnesota: one near Grygla in Marshall County and another in Kittson County. Minnesota’s elk population is 80 to 120 animals, depending on the location of a herd that moves back and forth between Minnesota and Manitoba.

By law, the DNR can authorize elk hunts in Minnesota whenever the pre-calving population exceeds 20 animals.

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