Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The news that The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation was withdrawing from its' involvement with the visitor's center being built on Winslow Hill was so earth shaking, that other matters of importance concerning the elk herd that were addressed at this time, were not widely reported.
According to my sources (certain RMEF members), who attended meetings held at The Foundation's property on Winslow Hill on September 11th, and 12th, 2009, PGC Executive Director Carl "Roe addressed the attendees on Saturday and announced that the agency is shifting the focus of its' elk management policy from hunting to tourism. He emphasized that the hunt would continue, but that it would not be emphasized to the extent that it has in the past few years.
Time will tell the exact ramifications of this statement, but it seems that the first steps had already been taken to address one of the strongest areas of concerns, which is the large number of bull licenses that were issued for the hunt zones adjacent to the major viewing areas. This is a subject that I addressed at length in "The Truth About Pennsylvania's Elk Herd", a 2hr.-42min. documentary.
From 2005 through the autumn of 2008, Hunt Zones 1,2,3, and 10 were combined as were Hunt Zones 7&8. This meant that anyone who had a bull license for any of the zones in the combined units could hunt in any of the zones in that unit. In 2008 this meant that it was possible that seven bulls could be taken in Hunt Zone 2, and an additional five bulls could be taken in Hunt Zone 8. In short 12 bulls could be taken in Zones 2&8, (I focus on these Hunt Zones as they are the ones that most directly impact the viewing areas). In reality the kill was most likely spread somewhat over the areas and all of the animals were not taken in the Zones near to the viewing areas, but it did permit the legal means for this to take place.
This particular problem was addressed for the fall 2009 elk hunt. The combined Zones were dropped and this year only 2 bulls may be taken in Zone 2, and 2 bulls in Zone 8. There is actually a higher overall license allocation with a total of 59 regular elk license, plus the special conservation tag that was auctioned off by The National Wild Turkey Federation, which makes a grand total of 60. 21 of these are bull tags and 39 are for antlerless elk. This is compared to last years allocation, which was 17 bull tags and 28 antlerless for a total of 45 licenses, which comes to an increase of 4 bull tags and 11 antlerless tags, but if one subtracts the 10 additional tags for the September 2008 hunt, then the total increase in antlerless tags is only one animal.(The tags for the September hunt were drawn in 2007, and as such I do not think were counted in the 2008 allocation, although the hunters were still out there looking for a cow elk in Hunt Zone 1 in September of 2008). Note that the September hunt was discontinued last year.
While the statistics may be somewhat hard to follow, the bottom line is that it appears hunting pressure has to a certain extent, been shifted away from the elk near the viewing areas.