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HARRISBURG - With the application period now closed, Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Vern Ross today announced that hunters submitted 50,697 applications for the public drawing to award 30 licenses as part of the state^s first elk hunt in seven decades. "The next task will be to cross-reference the information supplied on the applications to ensure that no one submitted more than one application, and that all applications have been completed properly," Ross said. "Those applications not completed properly and those who submitted more than one application will be ineligible for the public drawing." Ross noted that, based on a preliminary review of the applications received, up to 650 may be declared ineligible because of duplicate filings or incomplete forms. Once the review is completed, relevant information about all eligible applicants will be printed on three-by-five inch cards to be deposited in a single container for the public drawing on Saturday, Sept. 29, on Winslow Hill in Benezette Township, Elk County. The drawing will be held as part of Pennsylvania^s Elk Outdoor Expo, which is being coordinated by the Northwest Pennsylvania^s Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau (NWPGO). Game Commission Northcentral Region Director Barry Hambley said that, beginning at 4:30 p.m., Rawley Cogan, Game Commission elk biologist, will conduct an educational program about Pennsylvania^s elk herd and the upcoming elk hunt. The drawing for the 30 licenses will begin at 5:15 p.m. "Members of the Safari Club International^s Lehigh Valley Chapter have donated to the Game Commission a container large enough to properly handle up to 100,000 applications," Hambley said. He noted that local residents have been selected to participate in the drawing. The first 15 applications drawn will be awarded antlered elk licenses, and the next 15 will be awarded antlerless elk licenses. Of the 30 licenses available, up to two may be awarded to nonresidents. This number is based on the percentage of nonresident general hunting licenses sold during the previous year, which is about seven percent. The Game Commission received 13,987 applications via the Internet, and 36,710 by regular mail. Pennsylvania residents accounted for 47,540 applications, and nonresidents for 3,157 applications. Applications were received from all 67 Pennsylvania counties, with the top five counties being: Allegheny with 2,716; Westmoreland, 2,457; York, 2,309; Lancaster, 2,268; and Berks, 1,684. In addition to Pennsylvania, applications were received from 47 other states and the District of Columbia, with the top five states being: New York, 793; Ohio, 598; Maryland, 315; New Jersey, 183; and West Virginia, 131. Applications were not received from North Dakota or Hawaii. There were 12 applications received from citizens of Canada. Hambley also noted that those interested in serving as guides for hunters who receive an elk license still may apply for a permit with the Game Commission. Guides may provide assistance in locating or tracking elk, but may not harvest the elk. Guide permits are $10 for residents and $25 for nonresidents. Permits may be obtained from the Game Commission^s Harrisburg headquarters. Game Commission employees will not serve as elk hunt guides. "Elk hunting will be a unique challenge," Cogan said. "By specifically allowing elk hunters to utilize guides, local residents will be able to provide valuable assistance to those not familiar with the area or the elk. Ultimately, if elk hunters are successful, the Game Commission will be successful in managing the elk herd. Local residents will be able to be an important part of that process as well." Based on recent trends, the elk herd conservatively is estimated to number 700. The elk population has been climbing steadily since the late 1980s, growing anywhere from 10 to 14 percent annually.

Uploaded: 9/20/2001