In Minnesota, elk are back -- but barely

If ever there was a native creature inhabiting Minnesota not named white-tailed deer, that comes as prepared for a warmer climate, is disposed to fill niches that moose have largely left behind in some parts of the state, or, simply put, is as adaptive, then it’s the elk.

Elk grazing along a roadway. (Flickr photo by Geoff Parsons)

Elk grazing along a roadway. (Flickr photo by Geoff Parsons)

Here in Minnesota, a place where elk once flourished but were nearly extirpated because of unregulated hunting and habitat loss, elk are back, but barely.

Today, three small herds of wild, native elk live in northwestern Minnesota. One herd, the International Border herd, often called the Caribou-Vita herd named for Vita, Manitoba and Caribou, Minnesota, is the state’s largest herd. Though this herd fluctuates in size on the Minnesota side of the Manitoba border, collectively, as many as 150 or more elk have been surveyed by Minnesota and Manitoba biologists, with the vast majority of the herd, however, living in Manitoba.

Another herd, sometimes called the Kittson Central herd, is comprised of two small sub-groups of elk located southwest of the border herd near Lancaster, which is a small town in Kittson County between Hallock and Karlstad. This herd also varies in number and was surveyed last year at a little over 90 animals.

Minnesota’s other elk herd is located near the town of Grygla, southeast of the other populations. This small band of elk totals fewer than 20 animals and appears to be at risk of disappearing if female elk continue to decline in number or if no other elk migrate to this area from elsewhere. 

For full article, go to: DLOnline

Source, image(s), credits & more: DLOnline | Blane Klemek