- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Pennsylvania’s growing elk herd continues to fascinate wildlife fans along the eastern United States. The state’s herd has grown so much over the years that a little more than a week ago Pennsylvania had its third annual elk hunt. It wasn’t to supply home freezers with wonderful elk meat but rather to keep the burgeoning herd in check.

Of course, elk numbers aren’t anywhere near those of the whitetailed deer, but in the tightly confined area in which the state originally released the starter animals, it soon became obvious that they bred, had calves, enlarged their tribe and even traveled to new locales. Heaven forbid, some already have been struck by automobiles.

So between Nov.10 and 15 an elk hunt was held for people who were lucky enough to draw a special permit. It produced the first woman to shoot a Pennsylvania bull elk in modern times, and it was the largest eastern elk harvest since before the Civil War, said Vern Ross, the state’s Game Commission executive director.

The 100 hunters who were selected in a public drawing (from a field of more than 26,500 entrants) took 68 elk. Of these 68, 18 were antlered and 50 antlerless.

The elk license allocation for the 2003 hunt was designed to accomplish three things: stabilize the range-wide elk population, permit hunting in all elk management units and target elk-human conflict areas with hunting pressure.

Last year, 70 licensed hunters took 61 elk. In 2001, 30 licensed hunters killed 27 in the state’s first modern-day elk hunt.

This year, Janet Gruber, of Ellwood City (Lawrence County), became the first woman to shoot an antlered elk during a special season. She took a 7x6 bull elk (seven points on one side; six on the other) with an estimated live weight of 706 pounds.

In addition, on Nov.11, Lori Lowry, of Nescopeck (Luzerne County), shot an elk cow with an estimated live weight of 585 pounds.

The youngest hunter to get an elk in the one-week season was Matthew Klingensmith, of Leechburg (Westmoreland County). On Nov.10, Klingensmith, 15, ended up with a 547-pound antlerless elk. And congratulations to Marylander James Dixon, who took an antlerless elk with an estimated live weight of 558 pounds.

Guess who’s in our pocket (again) — The little state that is believed to be among the most expensive in the Union as far as resident hunting and fishing licenses are concerned is dipping into our pockets — again.

This time the Maryland Department of Natural Resources says it had to raise entrance fees to selected state forests and parks by $1 a vehicle (or person) to help keep the parks open and “safe.”

The increases will apply only to parks that have higher traffic and visitor numbers and subsequently higher maintenance and operational costs. The State Forest and Park Service is expecting to generate $1.2 million in revenue from service charges, which includes camping and boat launches, in 2004.

Maryland has 48 state parks, six state forests, two natural environment areas and 16 natural resource management areas that are managed by the State Forest Park Service. Eleven million people visit these park areas each year.

For people who visit state forests and parks more than once a month and/or launch a boat frequently during the spring, summer and fall months, All-Season passes are a great option. They allow free entry into a day use park for all persons in a vehicle as well as free boat launching at most facilities. All-Season passes cost $75 for Maryland residents and $100 for out-of-state residents.

Camping reservations for 2004 will be assessed at the new rates. Existing reservations will be honored, but the increased service charges will be added.

The parks people do offer free All-Season passes to people who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities. And the Golden Age Pass, for individuals age 62 or older, is good for free entry (cardholders only) into all state parks that have service charges.

Passes can be purchased or acquired at any state park or at the parks headquarters in Annapolis or through the Department of Natural Resources Web site at www.dnr.state.md.us. For more information, call 800/830-3974.

EVENTS

*Saltwater fishing lecture series — Starting Jan.5 and continuing Jan.12 and 26; Feb.2, 9, and 23; and March1 and 8, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., Maplewood-Alta Vista Rec Center, 5209 Alta Vista Road, Bethesda. Cost: $85 for Montgomery County residents, $95 for nonresidents. Call Montgomery County Department of Recreation at 240/777-6870 or go to mcrd.net.

*CCA/Southern Maryland Winter BBQ — Feb.21,6 p.m., at Izaak Walton League Hall, 4200 Gardiner Road, Waldorf, Md. Cost: $30 a person (includes an annual membership in the CCA, a $25 value). Information: Donald Gardiner, 301/645-3323 or 301/845-3719.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide