(a) The commissioner of natural resources must adopt an elk management plan that:
(1) recognizes the value and uniqueness of elk;
(2) provides for integrated management of an elk population in harmony with the environment; and
(3) affords optimum recreational opportunities.
(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), the commissioner must not manage an elk herd in Kittson, Roseau, Marshall, or Beltrami Counties in a manner that would increase the size of the herd, including adoption or implementation of an elk management plan designed to increase an elk herd, unless the commissioner of agriculture verifies that crop and fence damages paid under section 3.7371 and attributed to the herd have not increased for at least two years.
(c) At least 60 days prior to implementing a plan to increase an elk herd, the commissioners of natural resources and agriculture must hold a joint public meeting in the county where the elk herd to be increased is located. At the meeting, the commissioners must present evidence that crop and fence damages have not increased in the prior two years and must detail the practices that will be used to reduce elk conflicts with area landowners.
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