The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) has been working to build a bright future for Pennsylvania’s elk herdfor almost a quarter-century. To date, RMEF and its partners have completed nearly 400 conservation and huntingheritage projects with a combined value of more than $23.5 million. These projects have protected or enhanced morethan 20,000 acres of wildlife habitat and opened or secured public access to more than 8,500 acres!
A History of Survival Against All Odds
• This region of Pennsylvania was the fi nal holdout of Eastern elk before the sub-species went extinct in the 1870s.
• Between 1913 and 1915, the newly formed Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) introduced 172 Rocky Mountainelk from Yellowstone National Park. The animals prospered in their cousins’ former haunts, and a public elk huntstarted in the 1920s.
• During the Great Depression, the herd was all but forgotten. A small herd of elk persisted, though, even as theirpopulation fell below 50. Poaching and crop-depredation killing was the primary cause of mortality.
• In the 1970s and ‘80s, the state began closely monitoring the herd and made a concerted effort to keep them fromvanishing again. Throughout the 1980s, the elk population changed little, persisting at 120 to 150 animals.
RMEF’s Impact on Pennsylvania Elk Range
With the founding of the RMEF in 1984 in Montana, a new ally for elk emerged and the PGC’s elk management effortsreceived a substantial boost. Together, the PGC and RMEF helped erect electric fencing around crops, relocate elk awayfrom farm fi elds, radio collar elk to learn more about their movements and habitat preferences, and purchase public landsfor elk habitat.
• In 1991, the RMEF contributed toward the PGC’s purchase of 1,359 acres in the Winslow Hill area of Elk County nearBenezette, now known as State Game Lands (SGL) #311. To date, RMEF has helped purchase and make publicmore than 8,500 acres for hunting, fi shing and other outdoor recreation, and funded thousands of acres of habitatenhancement across the state’s elk range. RMEF fully donated 245 acres plus $1.4 million to help constructPennsylvania’s world-class Elk Country Visitor Center.
• These efforts have contributed hugely to this legendary herd’s resurgence. More than 900 elk roam the Pennsylvaniawilds. The state held its fi rst modern elk hunt in 2001, and thousands of hunters now vie for the chance at a coveted tag.
• RMEF and its partners received national recognition in 2012 from the U.S. Offi ce of Surface Mining Reclamation andEnforcement for transforming 320 acres of abandoned mine lands at Dents Run on SGL #311 into prime habitat for elk.In addition to the land benefi ts, the work also helped allow for Dents Run to be stocked with trout for the fi rst time in80 years.
• RMEF is steadfast in its commitment to the future of this herd. In 2015, the Elk Foundation provided $100,000 in fundingassistance to the PGC’s purchase of the 81-acre Woodring Farm addition to SGL #311. Centrally located in the elk zone,it signifi cantly expands public elk viewing and education opportunities. RMEF continues to help cover the cost ofcreating and maintaining quality wildlife habitat on public lands across the state’s elk range.
Join Our Mission!