Point Reyes National Seashore Release Experimental Tule Elk Herd
Contact: John Dell'Osso, 415-464-5135
Twenty-eight elk were recently released into the 32,000 acre wilderness area near Limantour Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore. Over the next few years, the radio collared trial herd will be monitored by park staff to track how they utilize the area and to determine the feasibility of a free-ranging herd in the Limantour wilderness area.
The release is an important phase of the park’s Tule Elk Management Plan. This plan was approved last July after a series of public meetings on an overall plan to manage the herd. Because of the growing population of elk on the Tomales Point reserve, the plan called for relocating a trial herd in the park’s wilderness area near Limantour Beach.
A temporary enclosure was constructed adjacent to the wilderness area for the relocated elk. They were restricted to 25 acres for six months, during which time they became acclimated to the area and withstood a series of tests to ensure the released animals were disease-free. The fence was removed, and the elk are now restricted by the natural barriers of Inverness Ridge to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west.
At one time, a half million tule elk roamed California’s coastal mountains, valleys, and forests; by 1860 only two small herds remained. Today, 22 herds support a population just over 3,000 animals statewide.