Nearly seven years into Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale drilling boom, wildlife officials say the state’s elk population continues to flourish despite concerns about industrial footprints, wildlife displacement and habitat degradation.
“It hasn’t disturbed any habitat, in fact, it probably creates more than there was to begin with,” said Pennsylvania Game Commission elk biologist Jeremy Banfield, referencing companies who cover defunct well pads with grass, prime elk habitat.
The elk population has nearly doubled since 2008, when the state’s Marcellus Shale drilling boom began, rising from 500 to more than 880 and increasing every year. The number is expected to reach 1,000 in 2015.
But there exists a lack of data indicating how natural gas activity has displaced the animals, and to what extent.