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Published April 02, 2010, 08:09 PM

Kittson County Residents Oppose Killing Of Elk Herd

In the mid 1990s, people in Kittson County, Minnesota started seeing something they hadn't seen in decades...elk.

By: Renee Chmiel, WDAZ

In the mid 1990s, people in Kittson County, Minnesota started seeing something they hadn't seen in decades...elk. Now those elk are causing some controversy. Last week WDAZ reported that the Department of Natural Resources is planning to kill one of the herds, as some people say the elk have been destructive. Others say they don't think the elk need to be killed, and that they aren't happy with the way the DNR is handling the situation.

"There was two elk out in the field and I wasnt 150 feet from them and they looked at me. They weren't scared or anything," said Kittson County Resident Elden Johnson.

Elden Johnson still remembers the first time he ever saw elk in Kittson County, more than 60 years ago. The elk returned about 15 years ago. Locals say there are three main herds of wild elk in the area, and that the DNR plans to destroy one of them. Some say they are good to have around and should be protected instead.

"Nonsensical, unwarranted slaughter shouldn't be. It's wrong," said Roland Larter, who lives in Kittson County.

As WDAZ reported, the DNR is going to spend thousands of dollars to have sharpshooters kill the herd. Larter says this isn't necessary, since there are other ways to control the animals. He says feeding programs or dispersing the animals, some of which are pregnant females, have worked to keep the animals from causing problems.

"If we butcher these mothers, we're destroying all these little baby elk that aren't even going to have a chance," said Larter.

Larter and Johnson say if the DNR does go through with killing the herd, they don't think hiring sharpshooters is the way to do it. They say this will cost more than $30,000; money that could instead be made if the department instead sold hunting licenses to locals.

"Minnesota is so short of funds. It's such a waste. Instead of spending money like that they should be selling licenses," said Johnson.

The Department of Natural Resources plans to test the meat for disease and donate the good meat to local food shelves and area landowners.

WDAZ wasn't able to reach the DNR today for a comment.

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