hunted to extinction, these mighty, majestic animals have made
a comeback and are once again "the Lords of the Forest"
elk population in Pennsylvania probably numbers slightly more
than 500. Though hunting, logging, and the encroachments of civilization
exterminated the state's native elk population in the late 1800s,
continuing efforts by concerned people and the elks' own ability
to adapt to changing environments have once again made this majestic
animal part of the Pennsylvania landscape.
were elk reintroduced in Pennsylvania?
In 1913 fifty elk were brought from Jackson Hole, Wyoming,
and released in Clearfield and Clinton Counties. Subsequent plantings
in other northern counties raised the number of stocked elk to
177. Unfortunately, the scarcity of suitable range and illegal
slaughter kept the population low through the 1950s, when the
state's elk population numbered less than 50.
recent years, however, the elk population has adapted to living
in relative proximity to humans and their numbers have risen.
As the elk population grew, Pennsylvania's elk herd gained both
fame and visibility throughout the state.
are the elk?
The general elk range could be roughly defined as the rectangular
area in Elk and Cameron Counties bounded on the south by Route
555 between Driftwood and Medix Run, on the west by Route 255
between Weedville and St. Marys, on the north by Route 120 between
St. Marys and Emporium, and on the east by Route 120 between Emporium
can we see them?
Elk can be seen in many places in the St. Marys area:
the best time to look for elk?
Many folks who make a habit of looking for and photographing elk
concentrate on some or all of these areas between Labor Day and
the end of the summer. This is the peak of the rut, and the bulls
are bugeling, the leaves are beginning to turn, and the elk herd
is gathering as the season changes.
the early summer months, the elk herd (especially cows and calves)
spread themselves over a wider area. Calves are born from mid-May
to mid-June, and during this time and immediately following it,
cows seek out more secluded areas.
while sometimes remaining in the area where they spent the winter,
also move around. You might see one just about anywhere in the
Cows usually give birth during May, generally bearing just one
calf at a time. The calves stay with their mothers through the
summer and into the winter.
cows may be six hundred pounds, but the largest bulls may approach
growth in the bulls begins in March. During this time, the antlers
are protected by a covering of "velvet" which peels
off after the antlers are fully developed in early August.
breeding season, or "rut", begins in late August and
lasts into October.
Primarily grazers, elk eat various grasses but in the winter
will also browse tree buds and even the bark from small trees.