Elk Cam Extras
We're glad you've joined us to learn about wildlife in Pennsylvania through
this live stream brought to you by
HDOnTap and the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission. Wildlife can, sometimes, be difficult to watch. Agency comments posted to the chat stream are consolidated below.
Going to the elk range?
Join us at
FREE public events and check out these Elk Viewing Destinations before your visit. Find hotels, restaurants and activities near the Pennsylvania elk range on the PA Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau website.
Stay in Touch!
Good afternoon elk cam fans. Our 2019 live stream season will come to an end later this week (Oct. 17). Follow our social channels to make sure you're the first to know about upcoming live wildlife watching opportunities in Pennsylvania's great outdoors. You can get to our Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram channels by scrolling down to the footer of this page.
2019 Season coming to an end, Oct. 17
As the white-tailed deer muzzleloader season approaches, we'll be closing this live stream and removing restrictions on this area of state game lands. We hope you have enjoyed watching and we invite you stay tuned to the Pennsylvania Game Commission's webpage, news releases, and social channels for information on future wildlife viewing opportunities. We thank our partners, HDOnTap, and the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission for their support of this educational effort. As always, we wish you a safe and enjoyable season.
Birds are in trouble. Here's how you can help.
A recent State of the Birds report and Science article reveal that North America has lost nearly 3 billion breeding birds since 1970 – that’s a staggering 29 percent of all birds! The results show tremendous losses across diverse groups of birds and habitats. However, the news is not all bad. Some bird populations, like waterfowl and raptors, have been improving due to dedicated efforts to understanding the problems and by developing science-based solutions. When we invest in wildlife, gains are made. Check out our most recent blog post for seven ways to help.
Elk Body Posture
Check out these tidbits from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
- When alarmed, elk raise their heads high, open their eyes wide, move stiffly and rotate their ears to listen
- If a harem cow wanders, a bull stretches his neck out low, tips up his nose, tilts his antlers back and circles her
- Elk threaten each other by curling back their upper lip, grinding their teeth and hissing softly
- Agitated elk hold their heads high, lay their ears back and flare their nostrils, and sometimes even punch with their front hooves
Turkey Restoration - A Success Story!
We've been consistently seeing two Toms and a dozen or so other turkeys on the live stream. The wild turkey was nearly exterminated by the ax, the plow and the gun. As our nation grew, settlers cleared wooded habitat for farms. And they shot turkeys for food. By 1800, market hunters were selling the birds for as little as 6 cents each. By the early 1900s — when eastern forests had been lumbered and periodic fires hampered their regeneration — the turkey was in trouble. Fortunately, here in Pennsylvania, the newly-formed Game Commission stepped in. Through seasons and bag limits, the agency succeeded in safeguarding what remained of the state's once-thriving population, which by that time could be found only in the rugged mountains of the state's southcentral counties. Over time, the agency experimented with ways to return turkeys to the rest of Penn's Woods. Turkey farms were tried. So was placing hen turkeys in holding pens for wild gobblers to breed. But neither enterprise fared well. What turkeys needed was habitat improvements. In the 1950s, as the state's forests began to mature, turkeys began to naturally expand their range. Expansion was furthered through a Game Commission wild turkey trap-and-transfer program that would become a model for every state interested in turkey restoration. Today, after thousands of wild turkeys were transferred throughout the state, and provided to other states, turkeys are found in every county. Learn more in our Wild Turkey Wildlife Note.
An elk's top two canine teeth are called ivories. Scientists believe ivories may be remnants of tusk-like features that could have been used by ancestral species of elk while competing.
The whip-poor-will hunts in forest clearings and around water, orchards and gardens. On each side of the bill, a vertical row of hair-like bristles flares toward the front: the bristles funnel insect prey into the generous mouth. Its soft feathering lets a whip-poor-will fly almost as quietly as an owl and helps the bird intercept moths. Whip-poor-wills fly up to catch moths, mosquitoes, gnats, June bugs and crane flies. The whip-poor-will is named for the male’s repetitive nocturnal calling. The “whip” is sharp, the “poor” falls away, and the “will” — the highest note in the sequence — is a bullwhip snapping in the night. The call carries about half a mile. Listeners close to the calling bird may hear a soft knock sound before each repetition. Whip-poor-wills begin leaving the Northeast in August and September, with stragglers into October. Listen to their call here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Eastern_Whip-poor-will/sounds. Learn more about whip-poo-wills in the Game Commission's Wildlife Note.
Where are the elk?
Elk are attracted to forest clearcuts, revegetated strip mines, grassy meadows, open stream bottoms, and agricultural lands. The area was planted with cereal rye and winter pea several weeks ago to benefit elk and other wildlife. Pennsylvania's elk live in northcentral Pennsylvania. The Game Commission and state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) manage public lands to make them more attractive to elk. The agencies create and maintain high-quality foraging areas and limit disturbance by humans. Elk habitat enhancement projects also benefit deer, wild turkeys, grouse and other wildlife. Learn more in our Elk Wildlife Note.
Let's Talk Turkey
We've been watching a nice flock of turkeys today. This time of year turkeys are eating both seeds on the plants in the field and bugs in the vegetation. With acorns falling onto the ground this month turkeys are spending more time in the woods searching for and eating acorns. But where the acorn crop is light they will remain out in the fields, and will continue feeding there until the insects die back due to heavy frosts. Learn more in our Wild Turkey Wildlife Note.
What's a woodchuck chuck?
Woodchucks are found throughout Pennsylvania in open fields, meadows, pastures, fencerows and woodland edges and even deep in the woods. Adults rarely move more than a half mile within their home ranges, preferring to stick close to the safety of the burrow. Chucks don’t generally have to move far to find food, as they eat a wide variety of vegetation — including green grasses, weed shoots, clover, alfalfa, corn in the milk stage, dandelion greens, garden vegetables such as beans, peas and carrots and, in the fall, apples and pears. These feeding habits often get them in trouble with farmers and gardeners. In the summer, woodchucks feed most actively during early morning and late evening. Learn more in the Woodchuck Wildlife Note.
Rocky Mountain Elk in Pennsylvania?
From 1913 to 1926 the Game Commission released a total of 177 elk in Blair, Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Forest, Monroe and Potter counties. From 1923 to 1931, hunting seasons on antlered bulls were held, and hunters took 98 of them. However, a decline in elk numbers, due in part to the animals being killed illegally for crop damage, closed the 1932 hunting season. By 1936, only 14 elk remained statewide – all of them in Elk and Cameron counties, which, interestingly, is the area where the last native elk was killed. Following a reintroduction effort, the herd slowly rebounded. Today the herd is estimated at about 1,000 animals. Learn the story of the reintroduction in this 30-minute documentary.
Is there a concern about genetics?
Great question. Our biologists are aware of low genetic diversity in Pennsylvania's elk population and the potential impacts. At present there do not appear to be any definitive effects that can be directly linked to a lack of genetic diversity but there is an on-going research project into how inbreeding may be affecting conception and pregnancy rates. That project is scheduled to be finished in 2023 and the results will be available to the public. Long story short, there is not a lot of clear evidence that would cause concern about inbreeding, but its always considered when researching/investigating ecological processes.
In Spring & Summer
In spring and summer, bull elk go off by themselves, living alone or in small groups. Cows and calves tend to remain in family units composed of a mature cow, her calf, and yearlings. Sometimes several families band together. An old cow will lead the group, barking out alarm calls and guiding the band away from intruders. In hot weather, elk bed in the shade of dense timber. They prefer not to move about in heavy wind.
Even crows enjoy the apple tree!
Crows are found in Pennsylvania year-round. In winter they may range up to 30 miles a day for food. Foods include grasshoppers, caterpillars, grubs, worms, most insects, grain, fruit, the eggs and young of other birds, organic garbage and just about anything else they can find or overpower, even roadkill. In this screen shot, one is about to carry off an apple found under the tree at the back of the field. Learn more about crows in the
wildlife note on Crows & Ravens.
What are they munching on?
Elk primarily are grazers, eating a variety of grasses and forbs. This area was planted with cereal rye and winter pea several weeks ago to benefit elk and other wildlife. When available, acorns will make up a portion of elk's fall diet. They also browse oak, striped maple, black cherry, Juneberry and witch hazel. In winter, elk paw through snow to reach grass, or turn to twigs, buds and the bark of trees. Among trees and shrubs, early successional species such as aspen, willow, and flowering dogwood are important to Pennsylvania elk. They drink from streams and springs and, if necessary, during the winter they get water by eating snow.
Young coyotes begin to disperse from the family group during fall, when they're 6 months old. Studies in Pennsylvania indicate some juvenile coyotes dispersed up to 100 miles, but 30 to 50 miles is more common.
Coyotes primarily are nocturnal, but often hunt during daylight hours, especially in the morning. A coyote's senses of smell, hearing and alertness are especially keen. At times, they will "pack" and at other times will hunt alone or in the company of another coyote or two. Coyotes use a variety of yips, barks and howls to communicate. Howling might occur at any time of day, but the highest activity usually is at night. Learn more about Pennsylvania coyotes in this
About 8½ months after a cow elk is bred, in May or June, she will give birth to a single calf, rarely twins. A calf weighs about 30 pounds and can stand when only 20 minutes old. Within an hour, it starts to nurse, and it begins feeding on vegetation when less than a month old. Calves seen here are roughly three months old.
Mating season in elk country is September and October. Bulls bugle invitations to cows and challenges to other bulls. Bulls fight with each other, joining antlers and pushing and shoving. Battles rarely end in serious injury; the weaker bull usually breaks off the confrontation and trots away. Like their western counterparts, Pennsylvania bull elk amass harems of 15 to 20 cows. Most harems are controlled by large mature bulls, although younger males, which hang around on the fringes of the groups, may also share in the breeding.
Bark, Grunt, Bugle!
Cow elk often bark and grunt to communicate with their calves, and calves make a sharp squealing sound. The best known elk call, however, is the bull's bugling. Bugling occurs primarily during the mating season. It consists of a low bellow that ascends to a high note, which is held until the animal runs out of breath, followed by guttural grunts. Cows also bugle at times.
Let's talk antlers
Each year, a bull grows large branching antlers that sweep up and back from the head. In May, two bumps start to swell on the animal's skull, pushing up about half an inch per day. The growing antlers are covered with a soft skin called velvet. This covering contains blood vessels which supply growth materials to the enlarging antlers. Yearlings usually grow single spikes 10 to 24 inches in length, while older bulls may produce racks with main beams 4 to 5 feet in length and having five to nine tines to a side. An elk with a total of 12 antler points is called a ''royal" bull; one with 14 points is an "imperial." Before the autumn rutting season, the velvet dries and is shed or rubbed off. Bulls carry their antlers into late winter or early spring. Learn more in our
Elk Wildlife Note and on the
Elk Cam Extras page.
How big is an elk?
Elk are much larger and heavier than white-tailed deer. A mature male elk, called a bull, stands 50 to 60 inches at the shoulder and weighs 600 to 1,000 pounds. Females, or cows, weigh 500 to 600 pounds. Strong muscular animals, elk can run 30 mph for short distances, and can trot for miles. They jump well and swim readily. Their senses of smell and hearing are keen. Learn more in our
Elk Wildlife Note.
Travel with Pennsylvania's elk biologists as they trap and dart cow elk in winter. Watch this video in less than two minutes.
Going to the elk range?
Check out these Elk Viewing Destinations before your visit.
Find hotels, restaurants and activities near the Pennsylvania elk range on the PA Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau website.
During your visit
Be safe, considerate and respectful. Problems can arise when folks gather on the shoulders of rural roads and are focused on watching elk rather than oncoming traffic. Your actions help all elk-watchers, landowners, law enforcement and conservation officials have a good experience.
Keep a Safe Distance — Elk are wild animals. Always observe from a safe distance, and at the minimum of 100 yards (the length of a football field). Risk of serious injury or death can occur if a safe distance is not observed. If you cause the animal to move, you are too close.
Do Not Block Traffic — When viewing elk from your vehicle, park completely off the roadway or view elk from designated Wildlife Viewing Areas.
Respect Private Property — Elk know no boundaries. Please respect private property when viewing elk.
Be Mindful of Rutting Season — Mid-September through October is elk mating season. During this time bull elk are very protective of their harems and can be extremely aggressive.
Do Not Feed Elk — Feeding elk in Pennsylvania is illegal.
Sept. 6, 2019
Wild turkeys make a wide range of sounds.
The best known is the male's gobble (described ill-obble-obble-obble), used in spring to attract females and proclaim territory. Other calls include yelps (keouk,
keouk), made by both sexes; the cluck (kut), an assembly note; the whistle, or "kee-kee run" of a young bird
kee); and the alarm note (putt). Gregarious birds, turkeys call when separated from the flock. Learn more about wild turkeys in this
I also think I hear a chickadee in the background:
FREE public events on the elk range this fall. Join us!
Good morning. We are aware of the issue and troubleshooting. Watch this
2-minute clip about some of the elk science happening at the Game Commission in the meantime.
NOTE: Cam is operating on auto-tour.
Sept. 5, 2019
There are elk in Pennsylvania?
Before settlers arrived in Pennsylvania, elk (Cervus
elaphus) lived throughout the state, with concentrations in the northcentral and Pocono Mountains. By 1867, the species had been extirpated. Ultimately it became extinct throughout its range, which included New York and New England. Today, elk inhabit portions of Elk, Cameron, Clinton, Clearfield and Potter counties. The animals are descendants of elk from the Rocky Mountains released by the Pennsylvania Game Commission between 1913 and 1926. Watch this 30-minute documentary about the restoration of elk in Pennsylvania during the heat of the day when wildlife action in the field may be slow.
Sept. 4, 2019
The location of the camera is undisclosed for several reasons including discouraging vandals, trespassing in the restricted area, wildlife disturbance, and violations of the privacy of nearby landowners and partners, any of which could understandably interfere with the live stream. We hope you will continue to respect the anonymity of the location in the future.
What am I looking at?
This undisclosed location on state game lands is managed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The area was planted with cereal rye and winter pea several weeks ago to benefit elk and other wildlife. The best time to tune in is one or two hours after dawn and one or two hours before dusk, when area wildlife tends to be most active. You can expect to see wild turkey, deer, ground hogs, and elk, among other wildlife. You'll also hear many types of birds, insects and possibly human voices. This area is closed to hunting temporarily. You may hear gunfire from target shooting or small game hunting within range of the sensitive microphones. The camera is currently set to follow movement when it "sees" something and will otherwise stay stationary. Notify the Game Commission's Northcentral Region Office directly at 570-398-4744, if you suspect unlawful activity. And, visit
http://bit.ly/PGCElk where you'll find additional information on Pennsylvania elk and updated information relative to the live cam. Thanks for joining us and remember wildlife can be difficult to watch.