5.01.2013

EHZs Realigned!-No Hunt Zone Eliminated?

At this point things have become somewhat more clear about the realignment of the Elk Hunt Zones (EHZ), which we discussed in some depth in the last post. In  this I used the rough sketched map below, which shows the way the EHZs have been aligned for the past several years. From this it seemed reasonable to assume that they would remain reasonably the same, with EHZ 11 and 12 added to the mix.  If one looks at the map, they simply started with Zone 1 in the northwest corner of the elk management area and then numbered the units in a clockwise circle, coming back to EHZ 10 meeting EHZ 1 in the east, with the No Hunt Zone being in about the center of the western half of the elk management area, which corresponds to the core of the traditional core elk range on Winslow Hill.

Approximate Map of Hunt Zones In Recent Years-2 More Zones Added This Year--Source: W. Hill-"The Truth About Pennsylvania's Elk Herd

When pondering the license allocations for 2013, there were some things that just didn't add up though unless the EHZs were changed substantially in some areas as zones 5&6 were in the eastern part of the elk range where there is little controversy about elk/vehicle collisions and other elk related problems at this time. The new allocations really slammed the pressure on the elk in these zones with  a total of 7 bull tags and 23 antlerless tags being issued for these two zones, but the elk/human conflict problem area was centered in the Medix Run--Weedville corridor.

Things became more clear when the April 27th issue of Endeavor News arrived.  Well known elk writer, Carol Mulvihill's article, "Spring brings new life to Pennsylvania elk population" featured a small map of the new hunt zones.  Paid subscribers to the online edition may read the article in its' entirety by clicking the link, while others must wait 3 weeks until it is available to the general public.

2013 Elk Hunt Zone Map: Created by W.Hill based on map published in Endeavor News
I created a map of the new zones by drawing in Photoshop.  I emphasize that this is a a very rough drawing and county lines, and EHZ lines are only very general in nature. Do not try to analyze it closely and try to figure the exact location of anything.  In fact the map used by Ms. Mulvihill as best as I can tell does not show  route 255, or 555, or Winslow Hill Road, which the maps in the Hunting and Trapping Digest never do either. This makes it impossible to tell from the maps where the boundaries are, but the digests do have detailed written descriptions of the boundaries, so we will likely have to wait for the 2013-14 Digest to be published to be sure of things.

From this map though, it becomes clear why zones 5&6 have the high allocations.  These EHZs now appear to be in the area from beyond Weedville to the west to possibly well past Benezette on the south side of RT 555 to the east.  In addition EHZ 10 has been moved from the western edge to the east.

It is very clear that the PGC and a very vocal portion of the public do not want elk in town, or have to deal with them on the highways.  While at present the majority of the complaints about elk seem to be centered around the Medix Run to Weedville  and the Rt 255 corridors, the photo below, taken in Benezett, shows the type of situation that many are unhappy about.

Large Herd In Benezette
There is no mention in Carol's article of a No Hunt Zone nor is there one on the map, but there is an  EHZ 7, which is a very small area on the map, in what seems to be the location of the present No Hunt Zone.  It has an allocation of 0 Bulls and 0 Antlerless so if this is the replacement for the No Hunt Zone it makes no difference at this point. Assuming the boundaries remain the same, it is simply playing with semantics, but it does make it much easier to begin shooting elk everywhere on Winslow Hill in the future.  If this move is accepted with little or no public reaction, it will be very easy to start allocating tags for the area. The acceptance of the term EHZ 7 for  No Hunt Zone, removes a psychological barrier to elk hunting in the center of elk tourism on Winslow Hill.

I emphasize at this point that I will not guarantee the accuracy of any of this, but as more information becomes available it seems that things are going to change and the change will likely be very significant. Assuming that EHZ 7 with its' 0 allocation is the replacement for the No Hunt Zone, it will not surprise me at all if the size of area  is drastically reduced.  The bottom line is that time will tell and it should become clear by the time the Hunting/Trapping Digest is published, but I would not even assume that this is a given, as there seems to have been much tighter control on the release of information pertaining to elk management and the elk hunt in the past few years.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.



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