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Other states see good, bad in hosting elk herd

| Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, 5:58 p.m.
This is the piebald deer that was seen roaming the Harmar Township area earlier this past fall.

Some other states are learning what Pennsylvania knows: having elk means lots of tourist dollars but some challenges, too.

The Maryland Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus and Maryland Department of Natural Resources have been looking into reintroducing elk into Garrett and Allegheny counties, just over the southwestern Pennsylvania border. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation commissioned Responsive Management to determine what that would mean economically.

Its report said that bringing back elk — which last roamed Maryland in the 1700s — would generate about $4.2 million each year in tourism, create 41 jobs and generate almost $240,000 in local and state taxes, among other things.

The experience of another state is showing that elk can present problems, too.

Kentucky wildlife officials are wrestling with what to do with elk that damage farm crops, get hit by vehicles on roads and expand into residential areas. For the past three years, the answer has been to let farmers and other property owners shoot “nuisance” animals. That pilot program is set to expire, though, and state wildlife commission officials are not sure whether to continue it.

Some people want not only that, but to allow for the shooting of bull elk.

Piebald deer

A recent column on piebald and white deer caught the attention of Crystal McCalmont, specifically because she's had piebald deer living in her neighborhood for several years.

She's seen three piebald over the last three years — one each year — in her area of Harmar Township, she said. The one spotted this fall, seemingly a fawn from spring, has been running with a doe and another small yearling.

Whether it will still be around next year is a question. The previous two piebalds in the area moved on or succumbed, she said.

“They don't seem to make it through winter,” she said.

River of the year

The Youghiogheny was Pennsylvania's river of the year in 2008. Last year it was the Stonycreek in Cambria and Somerset counties.

The Schuylkill is the frontrunner for 2013, with the Monongahela, Lackawanna, Kiskiminetas, Swatara and Juniata also in the running. Voting is under way at www.pawatersheds.org/vote.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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