Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Minnesota
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Minnesota Project

Landowner attitudes toward elk

July 2015 - December 2016


Participating Agencies

  • Minnesota DNR

Through restoration efforts and immigration from Manitoba and North Dakota, there are currently about 150 elk in northwest Minnesota. In 1987, legislation was passed that required the DNR to write an elk management plan that recognized the value and uniqueness of elk, provided for integrated management, afforded optimum recreation opportunities, and restricted elk to nonagricultural land in the state. Currently, DNR staff is working with public stakeholder teams to develop a revised elk management plan, and anecdotally, it appears that interest in Minnesota elk has been increasing in recent years. The long-term vision of DNR for elk management is to enhance the population size and range extent of Minnesota's elk while maintaining coexistence with private landowners. DNR lacks objective data about the attitudes of private citizens toward elk. This inhibits the responsible advancement of elk management in the state. Minimizing future elk-human conflicts is critical to the successful expansion of elk since they utilize habitats on public and private lands. Although multiple states east of the Rocky Mountains have initiated elk restoration efforts, the primary literature lacks information pertinent to understanding the preferences of private landowners for elk management in an agricultural landscape. Citizens in northwest Minnesota have personally experienced living with elk, elk management, and elk-related tourism. They represent an ideal survey population to provide an understanding of the attitudes of private landowners toward elk in Minnesota. By learning more about their experiences, we may anticipate future conflicts if the range of elk expands in Minnesota, identify opportunities for education and partnering, and integrate data about landowner attitudes into modeling of additional areas suitable for elk. The objective of this study is to determine the attitudes of landowners within the elk range toward elk and their preferences for future elk management. The study will focus on the townships in northwest Minnesota encompassing the present range of elk. There are approximately 1,200 private landowners with >10 acres of land in this area. We will mail surveys per the 'traditional mailing' design to ensure adequacy, reliability and efficiency of the survey.