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Northeast MN elk reintroduction efforts

Bowmannate2000

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I saw this article and thought it would be worth sharing. I wonder if this will gain any momentum? It seems Wisconsin has been successful with their elk herd reintroduction. With enough public support I don't know why MN couldn't do the same in the E/NE part of the state. I know there are some elk in the northwest part of the state, but selfishly, it would be nice to have some closer to home!

 
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources appears willing to keep a plan moving forward to restore wild elk to eastern Minnesota.
DNR Commissioner Sarah Stromen, in a recent letter to Fond du Lac tribal officials, said the DNR “is prepared to discuss the next steps’’ of a potential elk reintroduction.
While it stops short of endorsing elk restoration or even pledging the state’s help — Strommen called the effort a complicated process with many steps — the letter is the first official sign from the state’s wildlife managers that they believe the effort is worth pursuing.
Strommen’s letter to Reginald DeFoe, director of Resource Management for the Fond du Lac Band, was responding to a March letter from band officials informing the state that the tribal council had voted to move forward toward elk reintroduction after both social and biological studies on the prospect came back overwhelmingly positive. As reported last month in the News Tribune, tribal officials invited the DNR to be a partner in the elk project.
Dave Olfelt, who heads the DNR’s Fish and Wildlife Division, said the state is easing in to what will likely be a long process toward elk reintroduction.

“It’s a commitment to talk,” Olfelt said of the agency’s response to the band.
“We view this as a collaborative process,’’ Olfelt added. “It’s their idea. But we’re going to have to work together.”
In the letter, Stromen said that acting DNR Wildlife Section Manager Mike Larson will be the DNR’s “primary point of contact on elk reintroduction.” Tribal wildlife officials expect to meet with Larson soon.
Elk, known in Ojibwe as "omashkooz," were native to much of Minnesota before being wiped out by European settlers as the state’s prairies and woods were transformed by intense farming and logging. The Fond du Lac Band is proposing restoring the big animals in southern St. Louis, Carlton and northern Pine counties. The focus is on the Nemadji, Fond du Lac and Cloquet Valley state forests, mostly within the 1854 treaty area where the band has federally-guaranteed hunting, fishing and gathering rights.
The five-person Reservation Business Committee, also called the Tribal Council, the reservation’s elected government, made the decision to pursue elk reintroduction at a meeting in early March.


“The RBC believes restoring the wild elk population to areas where band members retain their historic treaty rights is in the Band’s best interests. In addition to restoring part of the Band’s culture, elk are a native species all Minnesotans should be able to enjoy,’’ Fond du Lac officials said in a statement.
Despite tribal approval, many hurdles remain before elk are roaming in eastern Minnesota again. The effort needs backing from local and state political leaders. There’s also the matter of finding millions of dollars to pay for elk relocation from other states, or from northwestern Minnesota, into the area. Results from other states indicate it would likely take dozens of elk transplanted over several years for an eastern Minnesota herd to become self-sustaining.
Mike Schrage, a wildlife biologist for Fond du Lac, said that development of a formal elk management plan — where, how and how many elk should be allowed and how they will be managed once here — is critical before elk arrive. He said the management plan will include state, tribal and local officials as well as public input.
Another major step will be finding a disease-free source of elk to move here. Interstate movement of elk, deer and other cervids has become a critical issue in the expansion of chronic wasting disease across the country and officials say any source herd for elk will have to be free from CWD.
Underway since 2014, the Fond du Lac elk restoration project included comprehensive University of Minnesota studies of both habitat availability and public opinion. Both studies concluded in 2018 finding that elk restoration was both biologically feasible and also very popular with local residents and landowners.
 
Not saying I’m not in favor of elk but it is kind of surprising mndnr is. It is my understanding that elk are not native in ne mn but woodland caribou are. We know that species is not an option so Are elk the next best thing? They will no doubt want to know how the elk will affect the moose population.
 
I wouldn't call Wisconsin a success. Wolves are preventing it from its potential. Plus the area they are mainly in at Clam Lake isn't exactly traditional Elk homerange same as NE MN. Now the new black river herd is closer to the original range and would be awesome to see that extend south and west into the coulee region in all three states of MN, WI and IA.
 
I grew up on small dairy farm just outside one of the introduction areas. My dad had received one of the landowner surveys from the U of MN back in 2015 or so. One thing these areas have going for them over the NW elk herds is that there are very few full-time farmers in the potential reintroduction areas. But even with the the 10s of 1,000s of acres of public lands the elk are probably still going to end up concentrated on the ag areas where they can find easy food. I am sure they will avoid mucking through the peat bogs where possible.
 
Not saying I’m not in favor of elk but it is kind of surprising mndnr is. It is my understanding that elk are not native in ne mn but woodland caribou are. We know that species is not an option so Are elk the next best thing? They will no doubt want to know how the elk will affect the moose population.

Depending on who you ask two of the areas are more like east-central MN vs. NE. Only one is slightly north of Duluth and still outside of the primary moose areas. However, I do know several people that saw moose in the Fon Du Lac area around 2000-2010. I heard the tribe was shooting a few moose a year on the reservation. But overall the habitat has changed so drastically from farming, logging and development the habitat can't really be compared to historical range. I am sure tree regeneration would be a problem in some areas as well with elk. Most of the area's habitat is better for browsing vs. grazing. Still, most of the area supports fairly high deer densitites (15-20 DPSM) depending on the severity of the winters, so pretty good habitat overall. The Cloquet river valley area is on the edge of the historical elk range based on most maps.
 
I grew up on small dairy farm just outside one of the introduction areas. My dad had received one of the landowner surveys from the U of MN back in 2015 or so. One thing these areas have going for them over the NW elk herds is that there are very few full-time farmers in the potential reintroduction areas. But even with the the 10s of 1,000s of acres of public lands the elk are probably still going to end up concentrated on the ag areas where they can find easy food. I am sure they will avoid mucking through the peat bogs where possible.
Yeah it seems like the only ag in that area is hay, and ever time I drive up south finn the feilds are littered with rotting round bails. Might as well let elk eat it than mow it bail it and leave it to rot.
 
Not saying I’m not in favor of elk but it is kind of surprising mndnr is. It is my understanding that elk are not native in ne mn but woodland caribou are. We know that species is not an option so Are elk the next best thing? They will no doubt want to know how the elk will affect the moose population.
The area they are planning to do this is right on the edge of their 1840 historical range.
 
Not saying I’m not in favor of elk but it is kind of surprising mndnr is. It is my understanding that elk are not native in ne mn but woodland caribou are. We know that species is not an option so Are elk the next best thing? They will no doubt want to know how the elk will affect the moose population.
As I recall, the last herd of genuine "eastern elk," now extinct, was killed off in one massacre around 1911 in Minnesota.

The moose population in MN seems to be a goner indefinitely.

I can't understand why they don't use Manitoba elk subspecies for these eastern experiments. For a long time scientists were unsure if Manitoba elk and eastern elk weren't the same critter. I guess it's because the antlers of Manitoba elk aren't as "pretty" as Rocky Mountain elk.

Edit: Eastern elk were "exterpated" from Minnesota in 1896. Manitoba elk were introduced successfully in North Carolina (Great Smokey Mountains). Manitoba elk apparently have developed better defenses against wolves.
 
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starting this one up again are these so called experts so damn dumb that its not gonna be wolf food
Have you met with the people in charge of the reintroduction efforts and talked to them about your concerns or are you just looking to blame the wolves for one more thing (that hasn’t even happened yet?). Minnesota does have a huge obstacle that will nearly make it impossible for our elk herds to expand, but it certainly isn’t wolves.
 
The moose population in MN seems to be a goner indefinitely.


For the 11th year in a row, Minnesota's moose population of 3,440-6,780 animals remains stable. Although there is no statistically significant change in the estimated population relative to the last population survey, this year’s estimated number of moose is the highest since 2011, when the population was midway through a steep decline.

 
Have you met with the people in charge of the reintroduction efforts and talked to them about your concerns or are you just looking to blame the wolves for one more thing (that hasn’t even happened yet?). Minnesota does have a huge obstacle that will nearly make it impossible for our elk herds to expand, but it certainly isn’t wolves.
If the obstacle is the one I knew of that was removed by the legislature this year.
 
It was only recently that the Red Lake Band got serious about NW elk tags, and there is some tie to the desire to move elk from NW MN to the eastern location in that change....

The Fond Du Lac Band is the one pushing hard for the reintroduction further east. Some thought they can replace Moose which they had a significant hunting tradition of (though never did take many).
 
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