Instead The Commission concentrated on a trap and transfer program designed to alleviate overpopulation in the central elk range, while at the same time expanding the elk herd into other areas.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation funded a study gauging “The Economic Impact of Pennsylvania’s Elk Herd”. Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, and Penn State, research interns conducted the interviews. This study also included a survey of public sentiment about a limited elk hunt away from the major viewing areas. (Strauss, Tzilkowski, Lord, - The School of Forest Resources The Pennsylvania State University -University Park, Pennsylvania 9/30/99)
In either 1997 or 1998 I encountered the interns when I returned to a PGC parking lot after a morning of photography. A large crowd of tourists was there and I was not one of those selected to participate in the survey. For some reason I did not videotape this and thus missed recording an important moment in the history of Pennsylvania’s elk herd.
The report is extremely detailed, but the results on hunt approval can be condensed to the following:
2. 62% of hunters approved
3. 39% of non- hunters approved
4. Of those surveyed who expressed approval, the most common membership affiliations were with The National Rifle Association and The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
During this time frame PGC Commissioner George Miller toured the elk range. I learned of this from Dr. Perk. He was impressed with Mr. Miller, but this was before Miller allegedly made a remark to the effect that a hunt must be held soon or public sentiment would be so against it that it would be impossible in the future.
The PGC adopted the position that a hunt would soon be needed to control the expanding population, so an Elk Hunt Advisory Committee was formed in 1999 with Cogan as chairman. The committee included representatives from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, hunters, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; tourism and agricultural interests; the legislature and other stakeholders in the elk program.
Perk could see the world as he knew it coming to an end as these events unfolded and he was extremely unhappy as the rush toward the first modern day Pennsylvania elk hunt began. As it turned out he was not alone!