Elk were present historically in Minnesota’s prairies and forest transition zone up until their extirpation from the state in the late 1800s (Hazard 1982, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources [MNDNR] 2017). Settlers moving into the region converted much of the land for agricultural purposes, significantly reducing the amount of habitat available for elk, and ultimately leading to their extirpation in the early 1900s. Elk returned to the state in the 1930s through a reintroduction effort, as well as through natural dispersal from North Dakota USA, and Manitoba Canada in the 1980s (MNDNR 2017). In 2016, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) began a study on Minnesota’s free-ranging elk population. This population is found in a highly agricultural region in northwestern Minnesota, primarily in Kittson, Roseau, and Marshall counties. The purpose of this project was to collect baseline ecological data to provide a foundation for future research and management. Results from this study will help the MN DNR reduce elk conflicts with local landowners and inform management strategies to provide suitable habitat for this population. Our objectives for this project were to estimate the annual and seasonal home ranges of female elk, measure annual and seasonal home range fidelity, and describe annual and seasonal habitat use, for 2 full years. Current population estimates performed by the MNDNR in 2018, after a joint survey with Manitoba Conservation, the population is estimated to be about 220 elk (Franke 2018). While this population is still small, conflict with local landowners are a concern. More information is needed about the Minnesota elk population. Until 2016, there has been no multiscale study done on elk in northwestern Minnesota. The state of Minnesota would benefit from the collection of baseline ecological data, such as home ranges, seasonal movements, and habitat preferences. Our study will provide this baseline ecological data by combining home range information, landscape-level habitat use and selection of fine-scale habitat features by adult female elk in northwestern Minnesota.
John D. Krenz
Date of Degree
Master of Science (MS)
Science, Engineering and Technology
Freeman, A.E. (2019). Annual and seasonal measurements of home ranges and habitat use by female elk (Cervus elaphus) in Northwestern Minnesota [Master's thesis, Minnesota State University, Mankato]. Cornerstone: A Collection of Scholarly and Creative Works for Minnesota State University, Mankato. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/etds/965/
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