Applications Now Available for Elk Hunting License Drawing

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With the recent approval of the 2003 elk hunt, the Pennsylvania Game Commission will begin accepting applications today from those interested in being included in the public drawing for one of 100 elk hunting licenses to be made available for this fall’s season. The public drawing is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 27, and the elk season is set for Nov. 10-15.

New this year is the establishment of a preference system for the elk license drawing, which is something that previous applicants supported. Beginning with the applications submitted for this year’s drawing, individuals who are not awarded either an antlered or antlerless elk license in 2003 will be granted preference in future drawings.

Another change this year is that there is no limit to the number of licenses that may be awarded to nonresidents. In the 2001 and 2002 elk hunts, based on nonresident license sales of previous years, nonresidents were limited to receiving up to 2 and 5 elk licenses, respectively. However, in the 2001 elk hunt, only one nonresident application was drawn and in the 2002 elk hunt only four nonresidents applications were drawn.

In order to better serve its customers, the Game Commission is allowing hunters to complete and submit applications on-line through “The Outdoor Shop,” which is found on the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us). For those who prefer to complete a mail-in form, the agency also has posted a printable application on its website. In addition, applications will be included in the 2003-2004 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations, which is provided to each license buyer.

Completing applications on-line guarantees hunters that their application was received and that they will be included in the public drawing, and eliminates concerns about lost mail or late arrivals,” said Vern Ross, Game Commission executive director. “And, in addition to cutting the agency’s administrative costs, those filing on-line reduce the chance of having their application declared ineligible because the filing system notifies individuals who attempt to submit an incomplete application.”

A $10 non-refundable fee must be submitted with the application. On-line applications must be accompanied by a credit card payment (VISA, MasterCard, Discover or American Express accepted), and must be submitted by Sept. 12.

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. 22. Mail-in applications may be printed off the website, completed and mailed to: Pennsylvania Game Commission, Elk License Application, P.O. Box 61890, Harrisburg, PA 17106-1890.

No Game Commission office will accept hand-delivered applications.

By law, only one application is permitted per person,” Ross 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 2003-2004 hunting licenses go on sale July 1, individuals are not required to purchase a resident or nonresident 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 attend a mandatory orientation program sponsored by the Game Commission before being permitted to purchase the elk license. The elk license fees are $25 for residents and $250 for nonresidents.

The public drawing will be held on Sept. 27. The exact time and location will be announced later this year.

The 51 hunters awarded antlered elk licenses for the 2001 and 2002 elk hunt are not eligible to apply for five license years. All others, including those hunters awarded antlerless elk licenses for the 2001 and 2002 elk hunts, are eligible to apply for this year’s elk hunt.

All applications will be put into one container for the public drawing,” Ross said. “We then will draw enough applications to award 100 elk licenses. The first 20 will be awarded antlered elk licenses, and the next 80 will be awarded antlerless elk licenses.”

The elk license allocation for the 2003 elk hunt is designed to accomplish the following: stabilize the range-wide elk population; permit elk hunting in all elk management units; target elk-human conflict areas with hunting pressure; and decrease the hunting pressure on branch-antlered elk.

Those applying for an elk license will have the option to indicate their preference 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. For those who do receive an antlered elk license, they will not be permitted to re-apply for future elk hunting opportunities for five years.

Applicants also will be given the opportunity to identify their preference of an elk management area, or they may select “any.” If drawn and their preference for hunting area 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 management areas is posted on the website along with the application. This information also will be included in the 2003-2004 Digest.

For the 2003 elk hunt, the Board approved the combining of two elk wildlife management units, thereby reducing the total number of units from 12 to 11. Unit 11, which was comprised primarily of privately-owned land, will be added to Unit 1, which is made up of large tracts of publicly-owned lands, and thereby offer licensed elk hunters assigned to this new unit better access to huntable lands.

Those awarded one of the 100 licenses will be required to attend an elk hunting orientation program on Nov. 9, where they will purchase their elk licenses. Details about when the orientation program will be held will be announced in the future. The three-hour program provides information on the elk herd; elk anatomy; hunter ethics, safety and rules of the hunt; state forest lands rules and regulations; field dressing and field care of the meat and cape; and directions to the elk check station.

Individuals, especially those who live in the elk range 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 harvest the elk. Guide permits will be $10 for residents and $25 for nonresidents. Permit applications may be obtained from the Game Commission's Harrisburg headquarters. Completed applications must be received in the Harrisburg headquarters no later than Aug. 25.

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.

The Board of Game Commissioners gave preliminary approval to prohibit driving or herding of elk as a way of addressing local residents complaints concerning safety zone violations and trespassing. This provision must be approved at the Board’s meeting on June 24, before taking effect.

We have been experiencing problems with some elk hunters and guides driving elk from one management zone to another or out of safety zones,” said Mike Dubaich, director of the agency’s Bureau of Law Enforcement. “By making it illegal to drive or herd elk, we will address this problem.”

Based on population and reproduction data collected over the past three decades, the Game Commission estimates the elk herd will number between 650 and 700 animals by this fall’s season. For more information on Pennsylvania’s elk herd, visit the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), click on “Wildlife,” then choose “Elk in Pennsylvania.”

In 2001, the Game Commission and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) announced a pledge of $600,000 from their two agencies over the next three years to fund habitat improvements for elk and other wildlife throughout the elk range in northcentral Pennsylvania. The two agencies also challenged sportsmen’s groups, conservation organizations, businesses and individuals to match the state’s funding commitment in order to generate a combined investment of $1.2 million over the next three years.

Ross noted that the Game Commission’s $300,000 pledge is being generated from the first 10,000 applications received for the elk license drawing the 2001, 2002 and 2003 elk hunts.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation pledged $50,000 for the first year, and $100,000 for the second year and has agreed to spearhead efforts to raise an additional $150,000 a year from other contributors. RMEF is scheduled to announce its funding level for the third year of the challenge in July. Dave Messics, Director of Northeast Field Operations for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, noted five organizations already have pledged support to the effort: Dominion Resources, Pittsburgh, $15,000; Pennsylvania Wildlife Habitat Unlimited, $10,000; Pennsylvania State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, $9,113; Sinnamahoning Sportsman Club, Cameron County, $5,000; and Safari Club International, Lehigh Valley Chapter, Lehigh County, $5,000.

Dave Messics, Director of Northeast Field Operations for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, noted five organizations already have pledged support to the effort: Dominion Resources, Pittsburgh, $15,000; Pennsylvania Wildlife Habitat Unlimited, $10,000; Pennsylvania State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, $9,113; Sinnamahoning Sportsman Club, Cameron County, $5,000; and Safari Club International, Lehigh Valley Chapter, Lehigh County, $5,000.

The habitat improvements are intended to direct and hold elk to specific corridors and public areas within the 835-square-mile elk range; reduce impacts to private property and elk-related conflicts; and enhance regional viability of elk watching and related outdoor tourism.

The improvements will be concentrated in Sproul, Moshannon and Elk state forests, and on a number of state game lands in portions of Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk and Potter counties. DCNR and Game Commission foresters and biologists, as well as Game Commission land managers and food and cover corps crews, will use areas of the forest already cleared through timbering, mining or for utility right-of-way, to plant grasses and leguminous cover desired by elk and other wildlife.

This three-year plan is part of the joint Game Commission/DCNR seven-year elk habitat improvement project that has identified areas on public lands suitable for elk-habitat improvement. DCNR and Game Commission foresters and biologists, as well as Game Commission land managers and food and cover crews, have identified about 80 potential sites that could be developed as wildlife food plots. The goal is to more than double the 1,100 acres currently managed as herbaceous openings.