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Minnesota DNR reduces northwest elk tags

As a result of lower elk numbers, the Department of Natural Resources is offering fewer elk licenses this fall in Kittson County of northwest Minnesota. The Grygla, Minn., elk zone again will be closed in an effort to rebuild the herd to population goal levels.

“The number of hunting licenses available reflects the goals of the state’s elk management plan,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader. “That plan aims to balance the interest of hunters, landowners and others.”

The DNR this year is offering nine elk licenses, down from 23 last year, and is restricting the Kittson County hunt to two early seasons. The first season, which will be held in both the Kittson County Central (Zone 20) and North Central (Zone 30) zones, begins Sept. 13 and ends Sept. 21. Four bulls-only licenses will be available in Zone 20, and two bulls-only licenses will be available in Zone 30 during the first season.

The second season (Season B) will be limited to Zone 20 and will run from Sept. 27 through Oct. 5. Three bulls-only licenses will be available.

McInenly said winter aerial surveys tallied 20 elk in the Grygla area, which remains below the pre-calving goal of 30 to 38 animals. This is the second consecutive year the herd has been below goal.

Elk also were down in the Kittson Central zone, where the DNR observed 37 elk during the winter survey. Despite the decline, the population remains higher than the management goal of 20 to 30 elk.

Elk in the North Central zone, the so-called “Caribou herd,” wander between Minnesota and adjacent areas of Manitoba. The herd has about 100 elk, the DNR said, which is below the short-term target goal of 150 to 200 animals.

Hunters have until June 15 to apply for one of the nine elk licenses the DNR is offering this year. The license costs $187, and there’s a $4 nonrefundable application fee. Info:

The DNR has initiated a public process to revisit the elk management plan and implement any revisions by 2016. The existing plan, established in 2009, remains in effect until 2015.