Elk bring thousands of visitors to area

Local News

Benezette in Elk County has built an economy around elk, and fall is when the businesses are the busiest.

Elk rut, also known as the animal’s mating season, is going on now, and local businesses are feeling the effect.

Doug Ruffo owns Benezette Wines, but but when he noticed a need for hot coffee at the Elk Country Visitor Center during the rut, he opened this stand.

“We get a ton of people up here, especially on the weekends, it’s something a little more than the center could handle with the amount of people coming in, so we purchased the trailer,” Ruffo said.

He said on weekends, he’ll have a line up of people from all over country and world.

“I talked to people yesterday from Idaho that have been here for the first time, and they were just in awe of what was going on,” Ruffo said.

Around 300,000 people will come to Benezette during September and October to see the elk, providing the town with a big boost in business, president of the Keystone Elk Country Association Rawley Cogan said.

“Folks come in here to see the animals, they’re staying overnight in the local bed and breakfasts and they’re going to restaurants,” Cogan said. “They’re basically driving business all across the region.”

Elk can be seen all year round, but rutting season is ongoing now through October.

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