DNR Releases New Elk Management Plan, Comment Meetings Set

The Department of Natural Resources has scheduled two public meetings in northwest Minnesota next month to discuss the draft of a new five-year management plan for elk in Minnesota. The existing plan, in effect since 2009, expires at the end of the year.

The meetings in northwest Minnesota are scheduled for 6:30 to 9 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Lancaster Community Center, 95 Second St. W., in Lancaster, Minn., and 6:30 to 9 p.m. Dec. 16 at the Grygla Community Center, 127 S. Main Ave., Grygla, Minn.

Two bull elk walk in deep snow in 2006 during the Department of Natural Resources' winter aerial survey near Grygla, Minn.  has released a draft of its new five-year elk management plan and has scheduled public comment meetings next month in New Brighton, Lancaster and Grygla, Minn. (Minnesota DNR photo)
Two bull elk walk in deep snow in 2006 during the Department of Natural Resources’ winter aerial survey near Grygla, Minn. The DNR has released a draft of its new five-year elk management plan and has scheduled public comment meetings next month in New Brighton, Lancaster and Grygla, Minn. (Minnesota DNR photo)

A meeting also is scheduled for 6:30 to 9 p.m. Dec. 3 at the New Brighton Community Center, 400 10th St. N.W., New Brighton, Minn., for interested stakeholders in the Twin Cities area.

The meetings will begin with an open house followed by a formal presentation and opportunities to provide both oral and written comments.

Minnesota’s three elk herds are located near Lancaster and Caribou Township in Kittson County and near Grygla. In a news release, the DNR said the draft plan addresses elk population goals, elk-landowner conflicts and opportunities to hunt and view elk.

Local elk work groups made up of a broad spectrum of stakeholders in northwest Minnesota helped the DNR develop the new draft plan.

“The goal of the draft elk management plan is to maintain a healthy elk population that offers recreational and economic opportunities to citizens of the state,” said John Williams, DNR northwest region wildlife manager in Bemidji. “To provide these opportunities, the DNR must also address conflicts between elk and landowners.”

Minnesota’s elk population is estimated at 130 animals between the three herds. The Caribou-Vita herd — also known as the “border herd” or “international herd” because it roams between northeast Kittson County and the Vita, Man., area in Canada — has an estimated population of 120 to 150 elk, the DNR said, including 79 that were counted on the Minnesota side of the border during last winter’s aerial survey.

The Kittson-Central herd near Lancaster includes just over 30 elk, the DNR said, while the Grygla herd, which has declined in recent years, had only 18 elk during last winter’s survey, the DNR said.

The comment period for the new elk plan opened today and continues through Dec. 27. After reviewing the draft plan, comments may be submitted online at www.mndnr.gov/elk or via electronic or postal mail.
Email comments, including your name and address, to elkplan.dnr@state.mn.us or send via postal mail to: Elk Comments, DNR Wildlife, 2115 Birchmont Beach Rd NE, Bemidji, MN, 56601.