Minnesota elk hunters killed just six animals in September and December hunts – well below the quota of 23 -- so the DNR will extend the elk hunt, beginning Saturday.
“We are committed to managing these populations at levels identified within the management plan,'' said Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader. “We need to take additional animals to keep us moving in that direction.”
The DNR wants to restrict the elk population to meet population management goals and address crop depredation concerns.
Elk hunters who were selected for either the Grygla zone or Kittson Central zone but did not harvest an elk may hunt their zones during the extended season. In the Kittson Central zone, hunters will be restricted by time period. Hunters in the Kittson Central zone will be scheduled to hunt one four-day period, either Jan. 12-15 or Jan. 17-20. They cannot hunt during both time periods.
Hunters in the Grygla zone will be allowed to hunt the full nine-day period from Jan. 12-20.
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 in recent times elk from Manitoba have naturally immigrated to Minnesota.
Two small herds exist in northwestern 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, elk hunts in Minnesota can be authorized whenever the pre-calving population exceeds 20 animals.