Northern Pennsylvania is home to a small herd of elk; a herd that was reestablished in the early years of the last century after uncontrolled hunting exterminated the native elk from the Keystone state.
Pennsylvania has had some of the largest bulls found in North America. Today it is becoming well known that if one desires to view or photograph free ranging “wild” elk in the Eastern United States, Benezette Pennsylvania is the place to be. The elk here see numerous non-threatening tourists daily and during the rut tourist numbers grow exponentially. These animals become very trusting of humans. This trust allows viewers and photographers a great nature experience while interacting with and viewing these amazing animals.
Tourist visits the area to see the elk and mature bulls in particular, the very same animals that are targeted during the limited annual hunt that takes place here each November.
I have had the great pleasure to photograph the bull pictured here over the past three years. An image I captured of this bull along with a small cow in 2008 graces the September page of the 2010 Pa Game Commission calendar.
This bull will most likely thrill thongs of visitors to Pennsylvania’s elk range in 2010, but the big 8x9 that dominated the Gilbert viewing area this year, and could have continued thrilling visitors for a number of years, will not. Will this bull be killed in the 2010 season? I certainly hope not but you can rest assured that without a change in the hunting regulations he will be targeted.
It takes many years for a bull elk to grow into a mature majestic animal and only a moment to take him down.
The time to increase protection of the elk around the tourist areas is now. It is unconscionable to go on allowing “trophy” hunters to continue targeting the “easy prey” that provides the main tourist attraction to the Benezette area.