Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pennsylvania Elk Management: Divergent Views

Non-typical Bull: Winslow Hill September 2008

It is a basic tenet of human society that different special interest groups will view a particular subject in entirely different ways. An excellent example of this would be the current debate over health care.The management of Pennsylvania's Elk Herd is no exception. In this instance we have at least three major points of view:

1. Elk were re-introduced for the purpose of hunting and should be managed primarily for that purpose. There are several factions to this group. Some would like to see a high proportion of mature bulls maintained for trophy hunting, while others would like to see more hunting opportunities for a larger number of hunters.

Bull At Elk Check Station

2. Pennsylvania has a unique elk herd that is valuable to society as a whole and should be maintained primarily as a viewable resource.

Bull 36 "Fred": Benezette July 2009

3. Elk are large animals that create a lot of problems such as, crop damage, property damage, and elk-vehicle collisions. They attract large numbers of tourists that clog the local highways at certain times of year. It would be best if they were not here in the first place and it would actually be good if they were eliminated, or at least their numbers be reduced to the level that they are difficult to see.

Herd At Gilbert Viewing Area:
Some would like to see the herd on Winslow Hill drastically reduced, which would severely damage elk related tourism.

This is greatly simplified and cannot be dealt with effectively in one blog post--in fact it would take a book and a quite large one at that.

Most importantly many argue that we should do what is best for the resource, after all who can argue with that statement. The problem is that many view what is "best for the resource" through the prism of what they wish to do with elk.

I personally like the view espoused by Ralph Harrison a retired Bureau Of Forestry employee, who dedicated his life to restoring the elk herd.

He believes we should actually do what is best for the Elk, not do what is best for those who want to shoot elk or make money from the shooting of elk. Neither should we manage elk to do what is best for those who wish to make large sums of money from elk tourism, but should do what is best for the welfare of the species itself.

Anyone who is seriously interested in Pennsylvania Elk should purchase Ralph Harrison's latest book," The History of Pennsylvania Elk Country". It is published by The Pennsylvania Forestry Association 56 East Main St. Mechanicsburg, Pa. 17055, and is usually available at Benezette Store.


Tom said...

Excellent Willard..
I always look forward to this kind of thought provoking post... I agree with you and Ralph Harrison.. the Elk must now come first... I look forward to coming back to see the other comments.

My blogs today show World In Miniature No.2 and our Granddaughter CaraJade

imac said...

Yup Willard, Deffo whats best for the Elk.

Very thought provoking post

SaraG said...

Interesting post Willard. The Elk are beautiful animals. Not so pretty at the check stations. But I totally understand the purpose of the hunt, I could never do it myself. I would rather shoot them with my camera!!

Unknown said...

And I have to agree as well. They only give out so many elk tags here. My husband applied for one this year. He didn't get it and I was glad. I doubt that he would have actually hunted anyway.

The Birdlady said...

Oh, #2, #2!! And thata calf is just too amazing!

Peggy said...

I totally agree with you Willard! Do what is best for the Elk! Amen!

Leedra said...

As the saying goes "I don't have a dog in that fight", since I don't live in PA. But what is best for the elk is what should happen.

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Leedra said...

Oops, love the first photo.

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Anonymous said...

What a wonderful photo of our buddy Fred. He does not seem to be in decline. May he thrive for many years.
My view on the elk situation is that they should only be viewed, and used as a symbol of what a wonderful Creator we have.
They have grown to trust humans and we should not take advantage of that.

Louise said...

I whole-heartedly agree. Not knowing enough about this,I'm not sure they should have been introduced, but since they have been, they are more important than any of it.