Outdoors Notebook: State researchers study elk behaviors using elk-cam

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You've heard of eagle cams, shark cams, even a baby rhino cam. Last week researchers in the Pennsylvania Wilds darted a 14-year-old cow elk and slung a video camera and GPS unit to her neck in a ground breaking investigation of Pennsylvania elk behaviors and habitat preferences.

The initiative is a partnership of the non-profit Keystone Elk Country Alliance and state Game Commission, which manages about 700 free-roaming elk in Elk, Cameron, Clearfield, Clinton and Potter counties. The video unit will monitor the cow's location at specific times and provide high-resolution images of what she eats, where she beds and how she interacts with elk and other animals, as well as additional behaviors. In about 75 days it will fall off for retrieval by biologists.

View an interesting video about the collaring at www.youtube.com/pagamecommission.

"We are pleased to fund this pilot habitat study and we look forward to cooperating with the biologists to refine the habitat-management plan for Pennsylvania's elk range," said alliance president and CEO Rawley Cogan, in a prepared statement.

Elk are huge animals weighing up to 1,000 pounds. With no natural predators of adult elk, Pennsylvania's population is regulated by a controlled hunt in designated Elk Hunt Zones. This year, 27 antlered and 81 antlerless elk licenses will be available in a random lottery drawing Aug. 16, with hunts Nov. 3-8 and Nov. 10-15.

Fewer doe tags

Nearly 60,000 fewer antlerless licenses will be allocated statewide for the 2014-2015 hunting seasons. In 2B, which includes most of Allegheny County, allocations dropped for the first time in years from 62,000 to 60,000, and in 2C tags numbers dropped from 43,000 to 38,000. For a full allocations listing visit www.pgc.state.pa.us. License fees and the allocation process will remain unchanged. Tags go on sale by mail July 14 for Pennsylvania residents only.

Female fly fishing

Wilderness Voyagers Outfitters in Ohiopyle, Fayette County, will hold a two-day Women's Fly Fishing Clinic July 19-20. Led by female fly-fishing guides, the workshop is for beginners age 16 and older. It includes two breakfasts, two lunches and equipment and covers insect life cycle and identification, equipment use, casting and fishing on the Youghiogheny River or Meadow Run. A state fishing license is required. $185, details and registration at 800-272-4141.

Allegheny River fishing

Cash prizes will be paid to successful Allegheny River anglers in upcoming contests. The Lock 3 Bait and Tackle Allegheny River Tournament for muskies, walleye, bass, carp, drum, catfish and crappies, July 25-26, covers waters from below Freeport lock and dam No. 5 to above Aspinwall lock No. 2. $20 entry fee due by July 25. Details at Lock 3 Bait and Tackle, 724-274-7710, and Clyde and Patti's, 724-274-5030.

The Indianola Rod and Gun Club Fishing Contest, Aug. 15-16, targets Allegheny River muskies, walleye, bass, carp, drum, suckers and catfish from Natrona lock and dam No. 4 to the 62nd Street Bridge in Sharpsburg. $20 registration fee due by Aug. 13. Details 412-767-5025.

Beginner fly fishing

International Angler in Robinson will hold an Intro to Fly Fishing program at 10 a.m. July 26. All ages, students 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Registration at 412-788-8088.

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