According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), there are approximately 1,000 elk in Pennsylvania. Though native to the Keystone state, elk disappeared more than 140 years ago. All wild elk on the landscape today are descendants of two restoration efforts since then, arriving from Yellowstone Park and a preserve in Montour County.
“So it’s a pretty limited gene pool,” Jim Daley, PGC commissioner, told the Tribune Review.
For the sake of genetic diversity, the commission is trying to determine if it should authorize another restoration effort. Recent nearby restorations were successful in West Virginia and Virginia.
Many questions are still to be answered, including if such efforts would work in Pennsylvania and if incoming elk would be free to Chronic Wasting Disease or other health issues.
“The elk herd is so important to that center section of the state that should disease or something affect the herd, we could run into some really serious issues in a hurry,” Brian Hoover, PGC commissioner, also told the Tribune Review.
(Photo courtesy of Pat Yusko)