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Game Commission, partner organizations thank hunters for important contributions.

          Chalk it up as another win for wildlife conservation. 
With crowds estimated in the tens of thousands, this weekend’s Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Elk Expo again demonstrated the extraordinary interest in and support for the state’s elk. 
And, just as importantly, the money raised through the event – by those attending and thousands of others who weren’t there – will continue to work to benefit elk and their habitat, and bolster the public’s continued interest in Pennsylvania’s elk herd.

          Among highlights at the Elk Expo was the drawing for elk licenses for the upcoming elk season to begin Nov. 2. Officials on Saturday conducted a random drawing for the 116 elk licenses – 21 for antlered elk, or bulls, and 95 for antlerless elk, or cows – that have been allocated for this season. 
Then, on Sunday, another winner was drawn for a special bull-elk-hunting license awarded by a raffle that benefits the Keystone Elk Country Alliance (KECA). The raffled license not only allows the winner to hunt during an extended season, but also provides a free guide service and lodging to be used during a one-week period, the opportunity to have the hunt filmed by a professional crew, and a free shoulder mount of the hunter’s bull, if one is harvested.  
That raffle raised for KECA $157,150, all of which will stay in Pennsylvania to benefit Pennsylvania’s elk.
Money raised through the Game Commission’s elk license lottery also is a boon for wildlife. Because the number of elk licenses is tightly controlled, hunters seeking a chance at a license must submit an application along with a $10.70 nonrefundable application fee. 
This year, 27,592 hunters applied – which, yet again, is an increase compared to the previous year. And with $10 from each application fee added directly to the Game Fund, the Game Commission’s general funding source, that’s $275,920 that will benefit wildlife.
And, in talking about revenue raised by the state’s elk, another large sum needs to be counted, too. Back in January, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) held a silent auction for a bull-elk license that also permits the holder to hunt during an extended season. The license – the proceeds from which also stay in Pennsylvania to directly benefit the state’s elk, sold for $52,500. 
Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough said the numbers illustrate the interest in Pennsylvania’s elk, and funds raised and spent in Pennsylvania by conservation partners like KECA and RMEF have played a key role by funding education initiatives, land acquisitions and projects to improve elk habitat. 
“The way people respond to elk is truly amazing,” Hough said. “Hunters and nonhunters alike are fascinated with elk and they want to do everything they can to ensure elk thrive in Pennsylvania. Through their support and the support of conservation partners like KECA and RMEF, much has been accomplished for elk and other wildlife, and we will continue to accomplish more and more so long as that support stays strong.”
Hough extended thanks to all of the Game Commission’s partner organizations, and to those who help wildlife through the purchase of the hunting licenses, elk license applications and contributions to groups like KECA and RMEF. 
KECA president and CEO Rawley Cogan said 100 percent of the money raised by the raffle will remain in Pennsylvania to fund conservation education and habitat improvement projects including the completion of an outdoor classroom at the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette, and will be split among several habitat-enhancement projects developed to improve winter habitat for elk and other wildlife.
“Even though only one person was drawn to hunt a Pennsylvania bull elk, in reality, everyone who purchased a raffle ticket is a winner,” Cogan said. “Each of them supported one of Pennsylvania’s most majestic wildlife resources, and the places elk call home.          
“The power of the working men and women was once again evident and I applaud your dedicated support,” Cogan said. “You are all winners. Thank you.”

source press release