Tule Elk at Point Reyes National Seashore May Be Killed to Appease Ranchers!

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Update: March 31, 2022
The California Coastal Commission (CCC) needs to hear from you today! Last year, it conditionally approved a plan to allow the National Park Service (NPS) to continue leasing a large portion of Point Reyes National Seashore to cattle ranchers. Under this agreement, the NPS was required to establish a plan to address the water quality, climate, and wildlife issues caused by ranching in the area. After the CCC denied a request for an extension, the NPS submitted a plan that was missing crucial elements. Please take action below to urge the CCC to deny the NPS’ inadequate plans.

Update: September 15, 2021
Despite an overwhelming outcry from compassionate individuals and organizations worldwide, on September 13, 2021, the National Park Service (NPS) officially signed into action a general management plan that will involve killing native tule elk at Point Reyes National Seashore. This decision is just another way NPS is bowing to the pressure of ranchers who lease these public lands—one of the three elk herds is already contained by a tall fence to a peninsula, where the animals have reportedly been dying because of drought conditions.

Although NPS seems dead set on slaughtering these magnificent animals—whose ancestors were reintroduced to the seashore in the 1970s after being killed off!—it’s never too late to let NPS know that its plan is misguided and damaging. Please take a moment to comment on all of its social media pages and tell it to stop pandering to Big Ag and instead fulfill its mission to protect wildlife and the environment:

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Point Reyes National Seashore in California was established in 1962. The government paid $50 million to purchase the land from farming and ranching families, allowing those who signed lease agreements to graze cows on parkland for 25 years.

photo of beautiful elk

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However, conflict has arisen because three herds of tule elk—who are native to California and were reintroduced to the park in the 1970s after previously having been killed off—also graze there. To appease ranchers, the National Park Service (NPS) erected tall fences to keep elk off grazing land. One herd, designated the Tomales Point herd, is confined by a fence to a peninsula, and drought conditions have resulted in a drastic drop in water and natural food supply for these animals. Activists claim that hundreds of elk died in 2020 because the fences prohibited them from seeking sustenance elsewhere. Now, the NPS is moving forward with an amendment to the park’s General Management Plan that involves killing some elk and offering another 20-year lease agreement to farming and ranching families. More than 26,000 acres would be allotted for ranching, and lessees would be allowed to maintain over 5,500 cows. Meanwhile, the Drakes Beach elk herd’s population, which numbered a mere 124 animals in 2018, would be limited to 120 animals maximum—and the Limantour herd, which numbered 174 animals in 2018, would be “managed consistent with desired conditions for the planning area,” meaning that there would be no limit to how many could be killed! Furthermore, the NPS wants to allow agricultural “diversification,” so the lessees could possibly even bring in pigs, goats, chickens, and sheep and plant row crops. Animal agriculture only serves to exacerbate drought conditions in California. It takes an average of 1,799 gallons of water to produce a pound of cow flesh and 4.5 gallons of water to produce a gallon of cow’s milk. Meanwhile, the same thirsty livestock operations contaminate the water supply with manure (which contains E. coli), hormones, and antibiotics. Evidence indicates that water contamination from the ranches at Point Reyes is a problem, as bacteria levels recently tested at levels up to 300 times higher than the state health standard.

The NPS previously accepted public comments on this matter, and PETA members and supporters weighed in. However, despite hearing from around 40,000 people who asked that the elk be preserved, the NPS pushed forward and recently obtained conditional concurrence from the California Coastal Commission to proceed with this damaging plan.

Since the NPS appears dead-set on promoting livestock over wildlife, we need you to ask Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland to intervene and stop this cruel initiative. Let her know that fencing the elk off from their home range so that ranchers can graze cows is especially cruel since California is on the verge of another prolonged drought, and remind her that grazing decimates ecosystems, causing water pollution and soil erosion, spreading invasive species and disease, and harming endangered species. Ask Secretary Haaland to withhold the Record of Decision, an action that would put the NPS plan on hold pending further review.

After you’ve submitted your comment, please also comment on the NPS’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts and then send this alert to everyone you know!

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California Coastal Commission

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