Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Opening Up More Pennsylvania Elk Country

A foggy day in Pennsylvania elk country
It was the perfect kind of September day to be an elk in east-central Pennsylvania—overcast, chilly, foggy, drizzly and with the kind of dampness in the air that chills you to the bone. But it was a glorious day. In fact, the circumstances could not have been better.

Dozens of elk lovers put on an extra layer or two as they gathered to celebrate and dedicate the latest land acquisition by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Located in the heart of Pennsylvania’s elk range in Elk County’s Benezette Township, dedication ceremonies recognized yet another successful collaborative effort between the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) and RMEF to permanently protect, conserve and open public access to another 81 acres of prime elk habitat. 

The Woodring Farm project, as it’s called, is now a part of State Game Lands 311. It will eventually include an overlook, trails and parking areas that will make it easier for wildlife viewers to better experience Pennsylvania’s growing elk herd. RMEF stepped up with a $100,000 commitment to help make it happen.

“The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has been a monumental partner over the years for the Pennsylvania Game Commission in regards to elk management,” said Barry Zaffuto, PGC Northcentral Regional Director. “Those that have ever seen an elk in Pennsylvania owe that experience to the men and women of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.”

Since 1991, RMEF and its partners completed 311 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Pennsylvania with a combined value of more than $22.6 million, including 10 land acquisition purchases that opened or secured public access to 8,465 acres. 

Like much of the eastern United States, elk once historically roamed throughout Pennsylvania, but the last was killed off in 1867. The state released 145 elk brought from Yellowstone Park into seven counties between 1913 and 1926. By 1998, Pennsylvania’s herd had grown to 312, and the PGC relocated some animals to establish a new herd in the Sproul State Forest. Today, approximately 900 elk roam Pennsylvania and an elk hunt takes place every year.

RMEF, and our 11,000 Pennsylvania members, are proud to be part of a continuing effort to bolster elk and elk country in the Keystone State.

Winslow Hill, PA (Courtesy Ronald J. Saffer)

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