Elk NetworkJanuary 26: Pennsylvania’s Elk Restoration Anniversary

General | January 26, 2022

Below is a Facebook post from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Pennsylvania is home to the largest wild elk herd in the northeastern U.S., with approximately 1,300 free-ranging elk roaming the northcentral part of the state. But #DYK that on this day (January 26), 108 years ago, Pennsylvania’s first shipment of elk, from Yellowstone National Park, arrived by train.

On Jan. 26, 1913, 50 elk were delivered. From 1913-1926, a total of 177 elk were reintroduced to Clearfield, Clinton and Monroe counties, with the intent of reestablishing the state’s wild population. In 1921, Joseph Kalbfus, the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s first executive director, began considering to reintroduce elk from the western states back here in Penn’s Woods.

Kalbfus wrote in the 1912 annual report: “It now appears that the herds of elk found… far West are annually subjected to severe suffering and death by starvation because of the limitation and taking for agricultural purposes of their winter feeding grounds… the national government is anxious to reduce the western herds by placing numbers of these animals elsewhere to their benefit… I believe it would be well to locate the elk that may be received upon those of our preserves located upon the largest tracts of our state forest lands as far as possible from cultivated lands, and as near the center of the state as may be, in this way giving the animals as great range as possible, and at the same time reduce to the minimum the danger of injury to growing crops by these animals and the possibility of their wandering out of our jurisdiction.”

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has a long history of carrying out conservation work in Pennsylvania. Dating back to 1991, RMEF and its partners completed 524 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects with a combined value of more than $27.8 million. These projects protected or enhanced 27,957 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 10,189 acres.

(Photo credit:  Pennsylvania Game Commission)