New York passed a bill that authorizes open season on elk which is technically an extinct species in the state.
New York's Senate and Environmental Conservation Committee passed a bill that would authorize moose and elk hunting in the state for the first time in over 100 years. New Yorkers won't be lining up to buy elk tags anytime soon, however, since elk have been absent from the state since 1877.
The senator who sponsored the bill, Patrick Gallavan (R-Erie County) cites the successful introduction of a Yellowstone herd to Pennsylvania as justification for passing the bill.
"What harm does it do to leave it in (the bill)," Gallivan said. "We wouldn't have an opportunity to do it now, but that doesn't mean we would not have an opportunity in the future."
Not everyone agrees with the preemptive season. Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) said "silly season has officially opened" with the bill's passage.
Eastern elk were indigenous to the northeastern United States until their extinction in 1877. Shortly after the last elk was killed in Pennsylvania, Yellowstone National Park reached out to the newly-formed Pennsylvania Game Commission with the offer of a replacement herd of Rocky Mountain elk.
Nearly 200 elk were transplanted to Pennsylvania between 1913 and 1926. Pennsylvania's herd currently numbers over 800 elk.
Successful herd transplants have also taken place in Arkansas, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Tennessee, and the Canadian province of Ontario.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation helped fund a study that estimated the feasibility of a successful herd transplant to New York. No elk initiatives are currently underway in New York.
New York hunters are unlikely to fill a moose or elk tag in the state anytime soon, but that shouldn't put a damper on anyone's hunting season. Residents of New York may apply for a nonresident elk tag in Pennsylvania.