Are you and your friends excited for the weekend? Whatever you’re up to, we hope you have as much fun as these elk at Tule Elk San Luis National Wildlife Refuge. Once estimated to have a population of less than 30 individuals, these unique California Tule elk now number more than 4,000. See them – and other terrific wildlife – just two hours outside of San Francisco. Photo by Lee Eastman, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
California’s native Tule elk were driven to the edge of extinction by hunting and habitat loss, with perhaps as few as 10 or 20 surviving animals left at one point in the 20th century. In 1974 a herd of 18 Tule elk were brought to San Luis National Wildlife Refuge, where they have thrived. Today there are about 4,000 Tule elk in the state, many of them descendants of the San Luis herd. You can see Tule elk herds from the refuge’s auto tour.
A majestic Tule Elk bull (Cervus canadensis ssp. nannodes) rests in the grass, overlooking the scenic ocean vistas at Tomales Point in Point Reyes National Seashore in northern California. Tule elk are only found in California. They are the smallest subspecies of elk in the United States, and their range is limited to California’s coastal regions and the marshes and grassland areas of the Central Valley.