Elk expansion in Northwestern Minnesota on hold
LANCASTER, Minn. — Northwestern Minnesota ranchers are pleased by the shelving of a controversial plan to increase the number of free-ranging elk in the state. But ranchers say the underlying issue hasn’t been resolved.
“The situation we’re in with the elk, it (putting the plan on hold) was the right thing to do,” said Donnie Schmiedeberg, a Lancaster rancher whose hay, fences and pastures have been damaged repeatedly by elk. “But I’m still concerned about being able to manage the elk we have already.”
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the state agency charged with wildlife management, developed a plan that would have increased the state’s elk population, all of it in three herds in the northwest corner of the state, from the current 130 to about 200 in the next five years. Supporters say more elk would increase hunting and viewing opportunities, bringing more tourists to northwestern Minnesota.