Each year thousands of Pennsylvanians and out-of-staters apply for a Pennsylvania elk hunting license, but only a lucky group of 65 are awarded with one.
The state’s elk population currently resides in Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton and Elk Counties in northwestern Pennsylvania. In 1913 the Pennsylvania Game Commission reintroduced elk into the state by bringing them in from Yellowstone National Park.
This year’s elk season is set for November 5-10 with hunters holding 19 antlered and 46 antlerless licenses.
Carla Wehler, Operations Manager at the Elk Country Visitor Center, said elk hunting isn’t just for recreation; it helps maintain the herd’s population.
“The elk hunt is basically a necessary requirement to keep the herd in a managed state so that it doesn’t become too large,” said Wehler. “If the herd becomes too large, of course, there’s issues as far as traffic issues, agricultural issues as far as having problems with elk going into farmers’ fields.”
She said the elk and related tourism have brought economic improvements to the area with new restaurants, hotels, and businesses taking root to serve visitors.
Wehler says that maintaining the elk is a cooperative effort. While the Game Commission is the ultimate caretaker of the herd, the five counties and the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry work on their habitat.
“Everyone has kind of been working together to have a cooperative effort so that the tourism stays in check, and keeps everyone happy, and gets people that are coming to the area the potential of seeing the most that they can while they’re here.”
She said people don’t need to be hunters to enjoy the elk; they are welcome at the Elk Country Visitor Center and other viewing destinations year-round.
The drawing for the elk hunting licenses is September 14th.