Date of this Version
The native eastern subspecies of elk (Cervus elaphus canadensis) was once widespread in Pennsylvania, but was extirpated from the state by 1880 (Bryant and Maser, 1982). About 177 Rocky Mountain elk (C.e. nelsoni) were re-introduced to the state between 1913 and 1926 (Sassaman, 1985). The herd increased as did crop damage complaints. Hunting seasons began in 1923 and continued until 1931. No further hunting was allowed because the herd had declined steadily. A small herd persisted in North-central Pennsylvania, in Elk and Cameron Counties. Elk sightings were rare by 1948, despite 17 years of closed hunting seasons (Sassaman, 1985). Public concern for this unique natural resource increased and annual monitoring of the herd began in 1971. After a low estimated population size of 38 in 1974, the herd increased and stabilized at 120-140 animals. The herd and its habitat are being managed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) and the Bureau of Forestry (BOF). Their primary elk population management goal is to maintain a self-sustaining elk herd to provide viewing and other recreational opportunities for the public (PGC and BOF, 1989). They also have an elk habitat management goal of providing for the life requirements of elk on state lands to minimize impacts on private lands (PGC and BOF, 1989).