Activists Defy NPS Orders to Deliver Drinking Water to ‘Thirsty and Dying’ Point Reyes Tule Elk

Photo by Hari Nandakumar

There are plenty of people angered at the decision to kill Tule Elk in Point Reyes National Seashore in favor of cattle ranchers. With activists worried about the livelihood of the elk during drought conditions, they defied orders from the National Park Service to haul in 150 gallons of drinking water for the animals.

In a video posted to YouTube, activists are seen bringing tubs of water into the area of the elk and filling them with water. Although there is a brief confrontation with an NPS official, the activists successfully delivered the water:

Point Reyes, sitting north of San Francisco on the California coast, is home to a flourishing wildlife population, including elephant seals, black-tailed deer, great blue herons and bobcats. But the species that has flourished the most are the tule elk, and it became a big problem for dairy farmers.

Back in October, the NPS unveiled its plan to extend the leases of ranchers in Point Reyes National Seashore, which will include killing some of the Drake’s Beach tule elk that roam the nearby area.

The Point Reyes elk is one of the largest herds in California, and because they’ve taken up a home at residence of the grassy fields near Drakes Beach, they are competing with dairy cows for grass feeding. So when the National Park Service released its final plan to extend the leases of the ranches within the park from 5-years to 20-years, it included limiting the population of the competing tule elk.

The plan calls for reducing and limiting the tule elk population to 120. The herd currently sits at 138. According to the activists, 18 elk died during the 2020 drought because of a fence for private ranching that prevents them from reaching seasonal water sources.

“The actions of the National Park Service speak loud and clear: private ranching business is favored over public opinion and the lives of native wild animals at Point Reyes National Seashore,” Fleur Dawes of In Defense of Animals said in a press release. “Removing water from thirsty and dying rare Tule elk is despicable.”

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