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Apply now for the 2011 Minnesota elk hunt

Hunters have until Friday, June 3, to apply for one of 12 elk licenses this year by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

This year the application deadline is moved to Friday, June 3, to allow successful applicants more time to plan their hunt. Also this year, elk licenses will be available in the traditional Grygla area and central Kittson County. The DNR website features maps of the two hunt zones.

Hunters must file their applications electronically at any DNR license agent, the DNR License Center at 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul, online or by telephone at 888-665-4236. Hunters may apply individually or in parties of two. There is a non-refundable application fee of $10 per hunter.

Successful applicants will be notified by mail and must purchase an elk license for $250. Each party will be authorized to harvest one elk.

One license in Grygla and one in Kittson County may be issued to qualified landowners in a preferential drawing. Unsuccessful landowner applications will be added to the general drawing, from which the remaining applicants will be selected. Alternates will be selected in case successful parties opt not to purchase a license.

Two seasons will be conducted in each zone. The first season in each zone runs from Saturday, Sept. 17, to Sunday, Sept. 25. The second season in each zone runs from Saturday, Dec. 3, to Sunday, Dec. 11.

During the first season, two either-sex licenses will be available in Grygla (Zone 10) while one either-sex license and three antlerless licenses will be available in Kittson County (Zone 20). In the second season, two antlerless licenses will be available in Grygla while one either-sex license and three anterless licenses will be available in Kittson County.

Applicants must choose one zone in which to hunt. They cannot apply to hunt in both zones.

If no qualified landowners apply, all licenses will be drawn from the general pool of applicants. Elk hunts are considered once-in-a-lifetime opportunities in Minnesota, which means parties who choose to purchase a license will not be eligible to apply for future elk hunts.

The DNR expects bull elk to be the preference of most hunters. To accommodate this, the first drawing will select hunters for each zone. A second drawing among selected hunters will determine what license a hunter may purchase and the season in which they can participate.

"The early hunt is timed to coincide with the elk rut and hunters will have a good opportunity to try calling a bull," said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator. "During the second season, elk should be congregated in larger groups with snow on the ground, making tracking and trailing easier."

All successful applicants will be required to attend an orientation session at Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area headquarters in Middle River prior to the hunt. Also, hunters will be required to register their elk in their hunt area.

Some biological information relative to elk physical condition will be collected at the check station. Elk will be tested for chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis as part of Minnesota's wild cervid disease surveillance program.

Hunters should be aware that both zones contain private land, and permission to hunt these lands should be obtained prior to purchasing a license.