Hunters had expanded opportunities to harvest elk this past year after the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources offered more permits, a variety of permit types and a different season structure in one of the hunt zones.
The DNR issued a total of 22 permits – 16 antlerless, four either-sex and two bull licenses. Hunters filled 17 of the 22 permits by harvesting five bulls and 12 cows in two zones in Kittson County.
"We structured the hunts to fall within the breeding season when bull elk are most vulnerable and actively bugling, making it easier for hunters to hear and then find them," said Ruth Anne Franke, Karlstad area wildlife supervisor.
In a change this year, the DNR did not offer any later season hunts, all the seasons were nine days long and each included two weekends with five days between seasons.
In the Kittson Northeast Zone (Zone 30), the DNR issued two bull permits and offered one season Sept. 8-16. Both hunters successfully harvested bulls. This zone comprises the Caribou-Vita herd, which migrates between northern Kittson County and Manitoba.
In the Kittson Central Zone (Zone 20) located near Lancaster, hunters harvested three bulls and 12 cows in three separate seasons – two bulls and five cows in season A (Sept. 8-16), one bull and five cows in season B (Sept. 22-30) and two cows in season C (Oct. 6-14). Hunters enjoyed a 75 percent success rate over the three seasons.
Once again, a hunting season was not offered in the Grygla area where herd numbers remain below the population goal range of 30 to 38 elk. The DNR recorded 15 elk in the Grygla herd survey last winter.
Elk management in Minnesota
The DNR’s goal is to maintain a free-ranging, wild elk population in northwestern Minnesota. The department envisions a healthy population that offers recreational and economic opportunities while actively addressing conflicts between elk and people. Habitat and herd structure will be maintained. Hunting seasons are used to help manage problem animals and herd size.
Information on Minnesota’s elk and the current management plan is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/elk.