Pennsylvania Elk Applications Available

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With the recent approval of the November 2007 and September 2008 elk hunts, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has started accepting applications from those interested in entering the public drawing for one of 40 elk hunting licenses (15 antlered and 25 antlerless) to be made available for this fall's season and 10 elk licenses (two either-sex and eight antlerless) for the September 2008 hunt.

The public drawing is scheduled for 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15, and will be conducted as part of the 2007 Elk Expo at the Elk County Fair Grounds in Kersey. The elk seasons are set for Nov. 5-10, 2007, and Sept. 1-27, 2008.

To better serve its customers, the Game Commission has enabled hunters to complete and submit applications on-line through the agency's website www.pgc.state.pa.us. Just click on "2007 Elk Application" in the center of the homepage and then "Apply Online."

"Completing applications online guarantees hunters that their application was received and that they will be included in the public drawing, and reduces concerns about lost mail or late arrivals," said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. "And, in addition to cutting the agency's administrative costs, those filing online reduce the chance of having their application declared ineligible, because the filing system notifies individuals who attempt to submit an incomplete application.

"If they so choose, applicants also will have the benefit of being included in drawings for both the November 2007 elk hunt and the September 2008 hunt for the same $10 application fee. So, hunters automatically increase their chances of being drawn for one season or the other."

A $10 non-refundable fee must be submitted with the application. Online applications must be accompanied by a credit card payment (VISA, MasterCard, Discover or American Express accepted), and must be submitted by Aug. 31.

For those who prefer to complete a mail-in form, the agency also has posted a printable application on its website. In addition, an application will be included in the 2007-08 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations, which is provided to each license buyer.

Forms submitted through the mail must be accompanied by a check or money order (do not send cash) for $10 made payable to "Pennsylvania Game Commission," and must be received in the Game Commission's post office box by Aug. 17. Mail-in applications must be mailed to: Pennsylvania Game Commission, Elk License Application, P.O. Box 61890, Harrisburg, PA 17106-1890.

Hunters also will be able to submit applications at the Game Commission's six region offices or Harrisburg headquarters through Aug. 17.

"By law, only one application is permitted per person," Roe said. "If a person submits more than one application, all of his or her applications will be declared ineligible and the individual will be subject to prosecution. All application fees are non-refundable."

Because the application period opens before the 2007-08 or 2008-09 hunting licenses go on sale, individuals are not required to purchase a general hunting license to apply for the drawing. However, if they are drawn for one of the elk licenses, hunters then will be required to purchase the appropriate resident or nonresident general hunting license and view an elk hunt orientation video provided by the Game Commission before being permitted to purchase the elk license. The elk license fees are $25 for residents and $250 for nonresidents.

Those previously awarded antlered or "either sex" elk licenses are not eligible to apply for five license years from the year in which they were selected. All others, including those hunters awarded antlerless elk licenses in the previous hunts, are eligible to apply for this year's elk hunt.

Those applying for an elk license will have the option to indicate whether they would like to be considered for the November 2007 hunt, the September 2008 hunt or both. Applicants also may indicate their choice for either an antlered or antlerless elk license, or they may select "either." For those who select "antlered only," if they are drawn after the antlered licenses are allocated, they will not receive an elk license.

"Before applying, keep in mind that the September hunt was formed to address agricultural conflicts," said Dennis Dusza, Game Commission Northcentral Region Director. "Because these elk tend to move from the agricultural land to forested areas during the early morning, elk remain well hidden and difficult to harvest, making this an extremely challenging hunt. Our first hunt last year resulted in a 20 percent success rate."

For the September hunt, two "either sex" elk licenses will be awarded and eight antlerless elk licenses will be awarded. Those who receive the "either sex" licenses can take either an antlered or antlerless elk. There is a limit of one elk per license year. So, if a hunter drawn for the September 2007 hunt is successful in harvesting an elk, that hunter will not be eligible to receive an elk license for the November 2007 hunt.

Applicants also will be given the opportunity to select a choice of elk hunt zones, or they may select "any." If drawn and their elk hunt zone choice is already filled, applicants will be assigned a specific area by the Game Commission. To assist applicants in making this decision, information about the elk hunt zones is posted on the website along with the application. This information also will be included in the 2007-08 Digest. All applicants for the September 2008 elk hunt will be assigned to Elk Hunt Zone 1.

Beginning with the 2003 hunt, unsuccessful applicants began to earn preference points toward future elk hunt drawings. To participate in the preference system, an applicant must provide their Social Security Number. For those who do not have a Social Security Number, call the Game Commission at 717-787-2084 for instructions.

As part of the preference system, one point is added to an applicant's record for each year they submit an application for the elk hunt drawing and are not drawn. When a hunter with preference points applies for an elk license drawing, his or her name is added to the drawing an extra time for each preference point he or she has accumulated. For example, a person applying in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and also applies this year, will be entered five times.

Preference points are carried forward until an applicant is drawn; there is no requirement that applications be made in consecutive years to retain preference points. However, individuals must apply to have their preference points entered for a given license year.

Any hunter awarded an elk license for a given year whose military obligation prevents him or her from hunting the elk season for which the license was issued will be eligible to hunt in the next available elk season.

Anyone drawn for an elk license will receive an elk hunt orientation video that they are required to watch and share with any guide that they may hire.

Individuals, especially those who live in the elk management area or are familiar with the elk herd, may apply for a permit to serve as a guide for those who receive an elk license. Guides may provide assistance in locating, calling or tracking elk, but may not drive for or harvest elk. Guide permits will be $10 for residents and $25 for nonresidents. Permit applications may be obtained from the Game Commission's Harrisburg headquarters. To be eligible to guide for both the September and November 2007 elk hunts, completed applications must be received in the Harrisburg headquarters no later than Aug. 17.

Guide permits are required for those who plan to participate in locating, calling or tracking for elk. Family members and friends accompanying the elk hunter, but not participating in the hunt, do not need to obtain an elk guide permit.

Licensed elk hunters may choose to use a guide who has been properly permitted, although it is not a requirement to do so. Driving or herding of elk is illegal.

For more information on Pennsylvania's elk herd, visit the agency's website www.pgc.state.pa.us, choose "Hunting," then click on the elk photo.

Created in 1895 as an independent state agency, the Game Commission is responsible for conserving and managing all wild birds and mammals in the Commonwealth, establishing hunting seasons and bag limits, enforcing hunting and trapping laws, and managing habitat on the 1.4 million acres of State Game Lands it has purchased over the years with hunting and furtaking license dollars to safeguard wildlife habitat. The agency also conducts numerous wildlife conservation programs for schools, civic organizations and sportsmen's clubs.

The Game Commission does not receive any general state taxpayer dollars for its annual operating budget. The agency is funded by license sales revenues; the state's share of the federal Pittman-Robertson program, which is an excise tax collected through the sale of sporting arms and ammunition; and monies from the sale of oil, gas, coal, timber and minerals derived from State Game Lands.