We have developed the following questions and answers in response to recent inquiries about the tule elk at Tomales Point within Point Reyes National Seashore, and share your concerns. While it is a natural phenomenon for wildlife populations to rise and fall with environmental conditions, extreme drought conditions can certainly exacerbate population responses. The National Park Service (NPS) is monitoring water availability and will provide supplemental water to the elk this fall if it is needed.
What is the water status at Tomales Point as of early September 2020?
But looks can be deceiving.
Tucked in the rushes just behind this dry pond, the spring feeding the pond has standing pools of water with fresh elk tracks (Figure 1). A few hundred yards from there, another seep down in the willows has water oozing out of the ground. A wildlife camera shows tule elk and other animals drinking there regularly (Figure 2). The creek down to McClure’s Beach is flowing well (Figure 3) with heavy and recent elk trailing leading down to this water source. If you hike three miles out on the Tomales Point trail, you'll see a large pond with plenty of water for the tule elk herd in that area.
We have been monitoring the water conditions at Tomales Point since late July and will continue to do so until the winter rains arrive. If the elk need more water later this year, we'll install a water trough at a location where they already look for water.
Park wildlife staff surveyed available water sources at Tomales Point in late August and early September of 2020. Visit our Tomales Point Water Sources Photo Gallery page for survey results and photographs of available water sources."
How does the National Park Service monitor tule elk population levels at Tomales Point?
Has the elk population at Tomales Point experienced population fluxes in the past?
Was the 2013–2015 population decline at Tomales Point a result of the California drought?
Was the population decline a result of elk mortality or reduced calving rates?
Is there a management plan guiding park policies for tule elk at Tomales Point?
What does the 1998 Tule Elk EA say about the water sources at Tomales Point?
What contingencies has the National Park considered to ensure water remains available for the elk at Tomales Point?
Does the Tomales Point fence prevent tule elk from finding water outside of the reserve?
Is the National Park Service considering removing the fence at Tomales Point?
Is the Woodward Fire a threat to the tule elk population at Tomales Point?
Is management of the tule elk herd at Tomales Point being considered as part of the General Management Plan Amendment?
How does the National Park Service interface with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) in the management of tule elk at Point Reyes?
Last updated: September 10, 2020