December 21, 2009
Pennsylvanians Launch New Chapter in Elk Conservation
MISSOULA, Mont.—Pennsylvania has broken into a Top 10 list of places to find monster elk, an historic indicator of successful habitat and management efforts. Keeping that conservation momentum going, both at home and across the U.S., is the goal of a newly launched Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation chapter in Bloomsburg/Danville, Pennsylvania.
“Elk have roamed the Keystone State since 1913 after a successful restoration effort led by a young Pennsylvania Game Commission, but this is Pennsylvania’s first-ever Top 10 appearance in Boone and Crockett Club records, and that’s a big deal,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO.
The Boone and Crockett Club has kept trophy records of North American game since 1830. In the 169 years preceding 2000, Pennsylvania produced zero record-class elk.
In 2001, Pennsylvania held its first elk hunt in over seven decades. Between then and now, the club’s prestigious records book has gained four bulls from the Commonwealth, which ties it with California as America’s 10th most productive trophy elk state in the new millennium. See full lists of Top 10 Boone and Crockett elk states below.
RMEF has played a key role in the growing success of Pennsylvania’s elk herd, says Carl Roe, executive director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
“The Game Commission’s efforts to improve habitat within the elk range in Pennsylvania has been greatly supported by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its numerous Commonwealth chapters,” Roe said. “We welcome the newest RMEF chapter and look forward to working with them as partners for elk habitat.”
Additionally, Roe recently announced that Pennsylvania’s special elk tag will be auctioned at the RMEF Elk Camp & Hunting, Fishing and Outdoor Expo in Reno, Nevada., March 4-7, 2010. Funds raised will support the agency’s conservation programs.
Since 1991, RMEF has partnered with the Pennsylvania Game Commission to complete more than 175 different projects to enhance and protect over 14,800 acres, open 8,088 acres for public access, fund research and management initiatives, educate some 33,000 students and promote Pennsylvania’s strong hunting and conservation heritage.
Land Acquisitions—RMEF funding helped purchase 1,533 acres now included in State Game Lands #311 in the heart of Pennsylvania’s elk country. Another acquisition added 217 acres at the confluence of Hicks Run and the Bennett Branch to lands managed by the Bureau of Forestry. RMEF helped purchase and reclaim mining sites on the 4,100-acre New Garden property between the Sproul and Moshannon state forests. A 1,378-acre property, Kettle Creek, was purchased by RMEF and conveyed to the state for inclusion in the Sproul State Forest. In two separate acquisitions, RMEF helped secure 536 acres of key habitat in Cameron County between the Driftwood and Sinnemahoning branches of Sinnemahoning Creek, now part of the 200,000-acre Elk State Forest.
Elk Herd Expansion and Monitoring—RMEF helped fund a three-year trap-and-transfer project to relocate elk, expand elk range and reduce conflicts with other land uses in the Sproul State Forest. RMEF also helps develop and maintain forage openings for elk.
Economic Impact Study—RMEF funded a four-year study (1997-2001) in partnership with Penn State to identify economic impact of elk on tourism in north-central Pennsylvania.
Elk Habitat Research—In 2006, RMEF helped fund research on preferred calving sites, forage and ranges of elk in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Elk Country Visitor Center—RMEF helped facilitate, launch and fund $2.4 million for construction of the largest elk watching and conservation education center in the eastern United States, located in north-central Pennsylvania.
Conservation Education—RMEF helped establish wildlife viewing sites, purchase and equip a mobile exhibit to increase public awareness of elk and elk hunting, award scholarship funding to the Pennsylvania Institute for Conservation Education, and fund more than 100 workshops, clinics and programs for Pennsylvania youths and women.
Statewide, RMEF and its partners have spent over $14.4 million on these and other conservation and education projects in Pennsylvania.
None of these efforts would be possible without fundraising by local RMEF chapters, and the newly chartered Bloomsburg/Danville chapter is planning its first annual banquet for Feb. 20, 2010. For more info, call Allen Wetzel at 570-374-2588, or visit www.rmef.org.
Like more than 550 other volunteer-led fundraisers nationwide, the Bloomsburg/Danville event will help raise awareness as well as funding for future RMEF efforts.
A portion of local proceeds will fund a state grants program for continuing conservation and education projects in Pennsylvania.
“Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation banquets are always a good time for a great cause, which is why the organization has grown to over 150,000 members, impacted over 5.7 million acres of habitat nationwide, and become one of America’s premier forces for conservation. We’re proud that Columbia and Montour counties are now an official part of the movement,” said Dan Honaberger, volunteer chairman for the new chapter.
Montana based, RMEF focuses on habitat conservation and was a major partner in restoring wild elk herds to Kentucky, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Pennsylvania is the only eastern state or province on the Boone and Crockett Club’s Top 10 lists.
Here are those lists, along with actual entries into Boone and Crockett records (typical and nontypical combined):
American Elk, 1830-1999
1. Arizona, 135
2. Montana, 128
3. Wyoming, 90
4. Idaho, 69
5. Colorado, 62
6. New Mexico, 52
7. Alberta, 38
8. Utah, 32
9. Nevada, 27
10. Oregon, 21
American Elk, 2000-2009
1. Utah, 120
2. Arizona, 86
3. Montana, 49
4. Nevada, 47
5. Wyoming, 45
6. New Mexico, 38
7. Alberta, 10
8. Idaho, 8
9. Washington, 7
10. (tie) California, 4; Pennsylvania, 4