Elk were gone from Pennsylvania for about 50 years at the time the Game Commission began efforts to reintroduce them to the state in 1913.
One-hundred years later, the state’s elk herd is the largest in the Northeast and restoring elk to Pennsylvania is considered one of the great accomplishments in wildlife conservation history.
And for those hoping in this anniversary year to participate in Pennsylvania’s annual elk hunt, there’s still time to enter your name in the drawing for licenses.
“Like so many other aspects of hunting, the elk hunt quickly has become a tradition here in Pennsylvania,” said Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe. “But hunters need to enter the drawing soon if they’re hoping to take part in this year’s hunt.”
Hunters have until Aug. 25 to submit an application through the Pennsylvania Automated License System (PALS).
Applications can be submitted anywhere hunting licenses are sold, or online at the Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.state.pa.us. Perhaps the easiest way to submit an online application is by clicking on the “Enter Elk Drawing” icon on the website’s homepage.
Applicants must pay a $10.70 non-refundable application fee to be included in the drawing.
This year’s drawing provides a greater opportunity for hunters to obtain an elk license. The number of licenses to be allocated has been increased to 86, up from the 65 licenses issued in the 2012-13 season.
The drawing will be held on Friday, Sept. 13 in the auditorium at the Game Commission’s headquarters in Harrisburg.
Names will be drawn first for the 26 antlered licenses available, followed by the drawings for the 60 available antlerless licenses.
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 view the elk hunt orientation video produced by the Game Commission before being permitted to purchase the elk license. The elk license fees are $25 for residents and $250 for nonresidents.
There is no cap, or limit, for the number of licenses that may be awarded to nonresidents. Individuals who applied in each year from 2003 through 2012, but were not awarded an elk license, have 10 preference points heading into this year’s drawing if they submit an application this year, and will have their name entered into the drawing 11 times (10 preference points plus the point for this year’s application).
As part of the preference-point system established by the agency in 2003, consecutive applications are not required to maintain previously earned preference points, but those points can be activated only in years that a hunter submits an application. For instance, if a hunter has 10 preference points, but does not enter the 2012 drawing, he/she will not have any chances in the upcoming drawing. However, their preference points will remain on hold until they apply in a future drawing. Once a hunter is awarded an elk license – either an antlered or antlerless elk license – the hunter’s preference points will revert to zero.
Additionally, hunters who want to earn a preference point for this year, but know that they would not be able to participate in the elk hunting season if drawn, have the option of simply purchasing a preference point for $10.70. While they will not be included in the drawing for the 2013 elk licenses, they will continue to build their preference points.
Those applying for an elk license can choose either an antlered or antlerless elk license, or they may select either-sex on their application. 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. However, those who received an antlerless elk license in any of the previous hunts may submit an application this year.
Applicants also have the opportunity to identify their elk hunt zone preference, or they may select “NP” (no preference). If drawn and their preferred hunt zone is filled, applicants will be assigned a specific zone by the Game Commission.
The public drawing of applications to be awarded licenses will be webcast on Sept. 13. To view the drawing, a special icon will be posted online the morning of the public drawing for individuals to click on and watch the drawing.
Those who can neither attend nor watch the drawing can check the status of their applications online using PALS.
To access this information, go to the Game Commission website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), and click on the blue box in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage. Click on the “Purchase License Permit and or Application/Replace License and or Permit” option, which includes the ability to “Check on the status of any Lottery Application,” scroll down and click on the “Start Here” button at the bottom of the page. At this page, choose one of the identification options below to check your records, fill in the necessary information and click on the “Continue” button. Click on the appropriate residency status, which will display your current personal information. At the bottom of the page, choose the “Check on the status of any Lottery Application” button, and then hit “Continue.”
Details on the elk season and drawing are available on pages 86 to 88 of the 2013-14 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, which is provided to license buyers and may be viewed on the agency’s website.
By law, only one application is permitted per person per year, and the Pennsylvania Automated License System will prohibit an individual from submitting more than one application.
For those who want to participate in this year’s elk hunt, the first step is to get their applications submitted.
“Pennsylvania’s elk truly are something to be proud of, and in the 100th anniversary year of elk restoration in Pennsylvania, we are celebrating the herd’s success all year,” Roe said. “The hunt this fall also could be one for the ages, and anyone looking to take part needs to sign up soon.”