Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - 34

Industrial Age and market hunting did not bode well for the elk or many other wild animal species. The eastern subspecies of elk (Cervus	elaphus	canadensis)	was eventually wiped out completely. The Game Commission was created in 1895 to staunch this trend and conserve the wildlife in Penn’s Woods. It began introducing the very similar Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus	elaphus	nelsoni)	to Pennsylvania forests, with almost 200 individuals released into 10 different counties by 1926. A hunting season was established for less than a decade, but this was perhaps premature, as the elk population decreased and the elk’s range was reduced to just two counties by 1940. Elk managed to linger on and numbered a mere 65 animals in 1971. The herd nearly tripled over the next two decades, measuring 183 animals in 1992. Since then, the elk population has exploded and now numbers more than 700. A limited hunting season has been sustained since 2001, and elk are now found in six counties (Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk and Potter). With a range of approximately 800 square miles, the Pennsylvania elk is on secure footing for the first time in centuries.

The next time you see an elk in Pennsylvania, whether it is on a summer float trip or on a backwoods elk hunt, you will not have to consider the elk a symbol of environmental degradation or an apparition of what life used to be like in the eastern U.S. Instead, the Game Commission’s decades-long work has ensured that the elk is once again a member of Pennsylvania’s fauna, and symbolizes the potential to reverse the mistakes and excesses of long ago, and our ability to preserve large animal species in a time of urbanization and population growth. Even in the face of wholesale environmental changes and the near extinction of the elk, Poe’s search for natural beauty in “quiet, obscure and scarcely explored nooks” can be an inspiration to us all. Whether you are going afield with binoculars on a bird count, a hiking staff on an afternoon stroll, or rifle in hand on an elk hunt, everyone can take to heart Poe’s encouragement to venture beyond the easiest and most accessible paths to be rewarded with “the truest, the richest, and most unspeakable glories of the land.” 

Cover Painting by gerry Putt
THIS MONTH’S COVER, “Winterberry Bandits,” is the 2012 Working Together for Wildlife fine art print, portraying cedar waxwings. As in past years, a limited edition of 600 prints is available. Image is 15 x 22 ½ inches and printed on acid-free paper. Cost is $125, plus $10.95 s&h (for framing add $110, plus $15 s&h). Embroidered 4-inch patches are also available for $5.66, plus s&h. PA residents add 6% state sales tax. All sales benefit Pennsylvania’s nongame management and research. Order online at The Outdoor Shop, www.pgc.state.pa.us or call 1-888-888-3459.

34	

GAME	 NEWS


http://www.pgc.state.pa.us

Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012

Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - Cover1
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - Cover2
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - 1
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - 2
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - 3
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - 4
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Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - BB1
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - BB2
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - Cover3
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - Cover4
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