Today the elk herd in the north-central part of the state numbers about 900, and the Elk … A second was said to have been taken by a hunter named John D. Decker in 1877 in Centre County. This reversal of deteriorating range conditions had a very positive effect on the elk. Farmers shot several bull elk in a matter of days after the meeting and residents became indignant. Elk County is a county in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 31,946. The refined approach required 20 people, an airplane and a helicopter. Not only is it illegal to feed elk in Pennsylvania, but it teaches them to associate people, cars or homes with food and can lead to dangerous situations. Dr. Maurice Goddard pointed out at the meeting that five deer could live off the food needed for one elk, and wondered if the sportsmen would approve such a sacrifice. Looking for a more nearby, mid-day diversions when the elk are typically least active? The first 5 are all in and around Benezette, the 6th is a bit further away (more on that one in a bit). Under the new system, individuals who are not awarded either an antlered or antlerless elk license in an annual drawing will be granted preference  or increased opportunity in future drawings. The Game Commission pledged to do habitat improvement work beneficial to elk. One other solution has been mentioned that may be worth a try. As recently as 1928, though, the Game Commission deliberated whether to kill two troublesome elk in Carbon County. Outside the Visitor Center, 3 separate food plots and viewing areas offer visitors an excellent chance to observe real live elk doing real elk things! What’s a hot spot one week can be slim pickings the next. We just got back from “Elk Country” and weren’t aware of all the viewing areas of which you speak. While there are certainly no guarantees when looking for wildlife, these spots have proven to be fairly reliable haunts for segments the Pennsylvania elk herd, in my experience. But they have some pretty good hunches. The Game Commission seemed inclined to believe it was a habitat deficiency, because its biologists speculated the herd was suffering from suppressed reproduction. Never Feed Elk. Even if the elk aren’t out, the scenery surrounding the Hicks Run Wildlife Viewing Area is outstanding! This is one of my favorite roadside elk viewing areas in Cameron County. On the opposite side of the Quehanna Highway, you’ll find Table Falls. More than 50,000 individuals submitted applications to be part of Pennsylvanias first elk hunt in more than 70 years; 30 were selected for licenses; 27 shot elk. Located along the Quehanna Highway in Elk County, approximately 30 minutes from Benezette, the Beaver Run Dam Wildlife Viewing Area features a viewing blind on the edge of a man-made dam. Tom Ridge enacted Act 111, which created an elk hunting license, and fees and procedures for applying for the special permit. Talk of the herd being exterminated by farmers spread like wildfire. Another spot you’ll be glad you checked out, even if you don’t cross paths with any elk. "It's time we generated a realistic feeling toward these elk," he said. First, it developed an elk policy directing the agency, in cooperation with the then Department of Environmental Resources' Bureau of Forestry to improve the elk range on state lands in Elk and Cameron counties. There was no reason to suspect they wouldn't, especially after they moved into the rich farming areas bordering big woods. Elk County Courthouse • 250 Main Street • P.O. The project was started to accommodate the primary elk ranges steadily growing population, which had begun expanding on its own into western Clinton and northern Clearfield counties. As the Teens closed, the Game Commission was looking at the possibility of killing troublesome elk in Blair and Monroe counties. The trap-and-transfer project was funded by and in cooperation with the PGC, DCNR, Pennsylvania State University, Frostburg State University, Purdue University and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. They seemed to like the silk.". So you get the drift – elk tourism is big business in Benezette, and I always enjoy patronizing the local businesses that keep this small town going. Pennsylvanias elk hunt has continued every year since 2001, annually drawing about 20,000 applicants for the elk licenses made available. It was a move seemingly destined to take the gun -- and unregulated harvest -- out of the farmer's hands and place it firmly in the grip of wildlife managers. Thanks Linda – I sincerely appreciate the feedback! Hunters and nature lovers marveled at the large timid beasts. Yost Run Falls is a great hiking destination in its own right. They were released from three different sites during the project. Unregulated hunting and habitat loss were the biggest factors of their demise. Elk, or wapitis as they were called by native Americans, were doggedly pursued wherever they could be found in colonial Penns Woods. The creation of the Game Commission in 1895 paved the way for an ambitious effort to replenish and provide additional protection to many of the states dangerously low wildlife populations. In subsequent years, the number of elk being shot for crop damage declined. People were flocking to wherever elk could be found to take pictures and feed them. Hikers can explore the Quehanna Wild Area and a swinging bridge on the Clarion/Little Toby Trail. The welfare of the elk herd is a shared responsibility. With the mid-September peak of bull bugling season upon us, travelers from across the state are venturing into the Pennsylvania Elk Range in Northcentral Pennsylvania. A wonderful place to experience the elk herd in the Wilds of Pennsylvania. Twelve were released on state lands in Monroe County and the remainder on a Centre County preserve. During 1982, 15 elk were shot illegally and 11 others were killed while causing crop damage. Throughout the '80s, the elk herd's size changed little; it comprised 120 to 150 animals. Bulls with at least four points to one antler were identified in the law as legal game for the distant season. "When the farmers complained," former Game Commissioner John M. Phillips reflected, "we went into Centre County and found where a band of elk had been raiding a cornfield at night and had destroyed every ear in the field by biting about two inches off the end. To be honest, its amazing the Yellowstone elk survived to serve as the nucleus of Pennsylvanias resurrected elk herd. 1 mile further up Winslow Hill Road, you’ll find the second-most popular elk viewing destination in Benezette – Winslow Hill. In 2000, the herd was an estimated 566, more than doubling its early 1990s numbers. The hunting seasons no doubt made a dent in the states scattered elk herd. Although there are roadside (along Route 144) vistas in both wild areas, you’re more likely to see elk by blazing your own way through the forest. They were chased with dogs, jack-lighted, tracked whenever snow provided a trail, and shot on sight. Elk are one of the largest species within the deer family and range in forest and forest-edge habitat. "Therefore habitat manipulation such as timber harvests and selective land clearings to create food strips should receive added emphasis...". Do Your Part. Some farmers and residents there were rankled by the suggestion that someone from out of the area would kill their elk. Click on any of the icons below to get connected to PA Bucket List on social media! Then the herd rebounded. Expanding the elk range was also an important goal of the state's elk management plan, adopted by the PGC in 1996. They believed the farmers were entitled to compensation for their losses and petitioned legislators to address the issue. Persons who failed to comply were subject to a $100 fine. "We set up the best buffet that we could for elk," said Jim Hyde, who was involved in game lands planning and development during the period. Crude estimates, which were rarely conservative, suggested the Cameron and Elk counties herd numbered in excess of 200 animals. The numbers: We are in the midst of a spike in positive cases. Pennsylvania Elk Herds Our herd in Clearfield County is estimated to be roughly around 300. In the western part of the Sproul State Forest, the area around Round Island Run Falls is fertile ground for encountering elk while hiking to a picturesque 3-tiered waterfall. The best time to see these moose/deer mashups is at dusk and dawn. A year later, the agency considered restocking elk after several were shot in mistake for deer. Its county seat is Ridgway. The cooperative arrangement with DER did not mark the beginning of land management for elk by either agency. The elk in all the other release areas were gone. "We expect that we will see fewer conflicts with humans if the elk are on public land," Cogan noted. However, did you know that prime elk viewing season in Pennsylvania also occurs in the fall? Farmers cursed as they surveyed their latest losses. The oldest known cow in Pennsylvania was 32, and the oldest bull was 15. The Quehanna Wild Area is a 50,000 acre expanse covering parts of Cameron, Clearfield, and Elk Counties. The need for a hunt was gone; what was considered surplus or expendable had been removed from the herd. Lack of funding would eventually lead to the study's demise in 1974, but the research provided the first in-depth look at the elk herd and became the cornerstone for Pennsylvania's elk data base. The Game Commission's elk management efforts received a substantial shot in the arm in 1990 when the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) contributed $38,000 toward the purchase of State Game Lands 311, a 1,600-acre acquisition at that time, in the Winslow Hill area of Elk County (near Benezette). Pa's elk herd is free roaming and they move around constantly. In 1967, agency biologist Harvey Roberts suggested: "Due to the fact that we have never studied our elk herd, little or nothing is known concerning limiting factors, etc. In the early 1900s, elk from Yellowstone were released in Pennsylvania. Elk feed in the mornings and evenings, seeking shelter in between feedings to digest. In 1915, barely two years after the first elk were released, the Game Commission bought 95 more from Yellowstone. Fantastic collection of Elk viewing destinations Rusty. The program expanded the elk range from about 350 to 800 square miles. Together we can make a difference, slow the spread of the virus, and save lives. "Still hunting," or stalking, was the only legal way bull elk could be hunted. One of the most popular locations in the entire PA Wilds, the Elk Country Visitor Center is a 245-acre site near the village of Benezette and a premier elk … Some people also speculate that dry weather during the eight-year span may have suppressed snail populations, thus reducing the occurrence of brain worm in the herd. Elk are large animals that eat a LOT of food, so the best place to see them is where there is an abundance of food. An unmarked trail off the lower-back edge of the parking lot leads downhill, across an old railroad bed, to the banks of the creek itself. This varies with geography. After the agency alliance was formed, however, a more significant amount of habitat improvement occurred on state lands within the range. It’s always hit or miss with the elk, that’s why I gave so many options in the write-up. In the mid 1860s, Pennsylvania's last few native elk were still roaming in Elk and Cameron counties. The county was created on April 18, 1843, from parts of Jefferson, Clearfield and McKean Counties, and is named for the Eastern elk … You may be trying to access this site from a secured browser on the server. Aside from being a fascinating part of the history of this area, the clearings where the bunkers now sit silent are also a potential spot to catch a glimpse of the local elk population. Another change that occurred in 2003 was a discontinuation on the limit of nonresident licenses that may be awarded. Miller Run Wildlife Viewing Area is another roadside elk viewing area along Route 555, southeast of Hicks Run Viewing Area. Since it can never be possible to have an open season on elk, it seems foolish to me to try to provide habitat that would tend to increase the population.". Historical accounts suggest the elk was pursued for several days before it made its last stand in Flag Swamp, near the Clarion River. Several massive food plots dominate the scenery here, and provide ample grazing for the elk that usually fill these fields in the early morning and late afternoon. The annual hunts were expected to reduce the herd of 135 elk to between 65 and 75 animals over a period of several years. It appeared some sort of management initiative was going to be needed to satisfy growing public concern for elk. The Penn State study, implemented in 1970 with help from the Game Commission, Department of Forests and Waters and North Central Pennsylvania Economic Development District, focused on the elk herd's ecology, population dynamics, movements and other biological factors. Explore in-depth Pennsylvania data here. Paddlers and fishermen will love the Wild & Scenic Clarion River. The last 4 elk viewing areas I’m going to talk about span multiple counties in PA Elk Country. Bowers wasted little time at the meeting explaining the Game Commission's position on the discussed topics. By strategically locating these areas, many elk were persuaded to stay off farmlands, where they'd likely have been killed if they caused crop damage. About 50 elk are harvested annually. Here, a wild cow elk lives and average of 10 years, while bulls live an average of 8 years. While the Elk Township area has a strong Swedish history, they were by no means the first people here. In 1927, hunters harvested 26 bulls marking the state's best harvest since the reintroduction. Location: Winslow Hill Road, 3 miles from its intersection with Route 555 in Benezette. In 1992 and 1993, the RMEF contributed an additional $92,000 to help fund habitat enhancements and purchase and erect deterrent electric fencing on areas sustaining substantial elk crop damage. But in the 50s, they began drawing attention again. Home range and movements also varied by season. One of my favorite trails to look for elk is the Kunes Camp Trail in the eastern part of the Quehanna Wild Area. The concept of a town built around the elk tourism industry may seem quaint (or bizarre), but it works for Benezette, which is the unofficial “Elk Capitol of PA“. Characterizing elk, or any wildlife, by naming them degrades their wild essence. The best way to see wildlife is to sit quietly and remain still. The Kunes Camp Trail is an easy, relatively flat, 1 mile hike through open woods (making it easy to spot trailside elk and other wildlife), ending up at an abandoned hunting camp built between two massive boulders. Pennsylvania is home to the largest free roaming elk herd in the northeast United States (currently estimated at a herd of approximately 1,400), and visiting Pennsylvania Elk Country to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures has become an annual tradition for many people. All Rights Reserved. And speaking of views you’ll be glad you checked out, the parking lot of Saint James Church in Driftwood offers another stellar view of the Sinnemahoning Creek valley, from below rather than above as at Bucktail Overlook. While Fields Ridge Road winds its way 6 miles through the forest, dead-ending at a magnificent overlook. Elk affected people that way. Through these investigations, the agency identified the need to acquire land in the Winslow Hill area, an important elk activity center, and gained valuable insight into elk food preferences, seasonal movements and habitat uses. I like to say Hicks Run has one of the prettiest parking lots in PA Elk Country! © 2020 Rusty Glessner / PA Bucket List. Pennsylvania Elk Country is home to some incredible views, and you’ll find the best ROADSIDE ones to reach in my write-up “The 20 Best Scenic Overlooks in PA Elk Country”. "It is my personal belief that the elk herd is as large or perhaps larger than it need be and, so far, they are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. Many agency officials considered the hunt an alternative to the use of spotlights and rifles to resolve elk crop damage, a tool that could be used for selective harvest and customized management. So what I’ve done here is provide you with maps and directions to 15 spots in those 6 counties where I have personally encountered and photographed elk over the past half-dozen years or so. In 1912, the Game Commissioners and agency Executive Secretary Joseph Kalbfus began talking about re-introducing elk in Pennsylvania. 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