The quality of Pennsylvania’s elk, and the unique opportunity to hunt them continues to garner national attention, and there are numbers to prove it.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation on Jan. 31 held its Hunters Rendezvous Auction, at which several special elk licenses were auctioned off to raise money for conservation.
Pennsylvania, with its Special Elk Conservation Tag, was among eight states for which licenses were auctioned off.
The tag sold for $52,500 – a new record for Pennsylvania. Only Arizona’s and Nevada’s licenses raised more for conservation.
Dave Ragantesi, senior regional director for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, said the money raised through the auction will stay in Pennsylvania, where it can continue to work to benefit the state’s elk.
“We are pleased to have a strong partnership with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and look forward to utilizing these funds for continued improvement of our public lands in Pennsylvania’s elk country,” Ragantesi said.
Wildlife Conservation Officer Doty McDowell was among Game Commission staff who represented the agency at the Hunters Rendezvous Auction. McDowell helped man a booth that featured a display showcasing Pennsylvania’s elk, and he said he was impressed with the excitement it generated.
The booth was a busy place, as many of the people who would bid on one or more of the licenses auctioned off stopped by.
The response was phenomenal, McDowell said. People were amazed with the pictures they saw of the massive bulls taken in Pennsylvania year-in and year-out.
“One of the bidders was taking photos of our display and texting them to his client,” McDowell said.
The ability of Pennsylvania’s elk to excite isn’t anything new. In 2014, more than 26,000 hunters entered the Game Commission’s lottery drawing for a chance hunt Pennsylvania elk, and the sale of two Special Elk Conservation Tags raised more than $200,000.
All of that money supports elk conservation, Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough said, making elk a resource with the uncanny ability to attract resources of its own, benefitting not only elk, but other wildlife, as well.
“The opportunity to hunt Pennsylvania’s elk only tells part of the story,” Hough said. “Every year, thousands visit the elk range to learn about elk and to see these majestic animals up close.
“Pennsylvania’s elk certainly are something to get excited about, and tens of thousands of people are showing they understand that,” Hough said.