Tule Elk

State Natural Reserve - California

Tule Elk State Natural Reserve protects a small herd of tule elk, once in danger of extinction. In the 1800's, the vast herds of tule elk were greatly reduced in number by hunting and loss of habitat.
https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=584 Tule Elk State Natural Reserve protects a small herd of tule elk, once in danger of extinction. In the 1800's, the vast herds of tule elk were greatly reduced in number by hunting and loss of habitat.
Our Mission Tule Elk State Natural Reserve The mission of California State Parks is to provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation. At times we saw bands “ of elk, deer, and antelope in such numbers that they actually darkened the plains for miles, and looked in the distance California State Parks supports equal access. Prior to arrival, visitors with disabilities who need assistance should contact the park at (661) 764-6881. This publication can be made available in alternate formats. Contact interp@parks.ca.gov or call (916) 654-2249. CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS P.O. Box 942896 Sacramento, CA 94296-0001 For information call: (800) 777-0369 (916) 653-6995, outside the U.S. 711, TTY relay service www.parks.ca.gov Discover the many states of California.™ Tule Elk State Natural Reserve 8653 Station Road Buttonwillow, CA 93206 (661) 764-6881 © 2012 California State Parks like great herds of cattle.” Description of the Central Valley in 1850, from the Memoirs of Edward Bosqui t the south end of the San Joaquin Valley, Tule Elk State Natural Reserve protects a small herd of tule (toó-lee) elk, an endemic California subspecies once hunted nearly to extinction. After the moose, elk are the second largest members of the deer family (Cervidae) in North America. Three subspecies of elk (Cervus elaphus also known as Cervus canadensis) still survive in the United States—Roosevelt elk, Rocky Mountain elk and tule elk. Roosevelt elk, the largest, can weigh up to 1,000 pounds. Rocky Mountain elk are about 85% of that size; they have grown to become the largest grazing population in the country. California’s tule elk are about half the size of the Roosevelt elk and lighter in color, with shorter coats and larger teeth. Average mature males stand five feet tall at the shoulder and weigh 500 pounds. Females are about 2/3 of male size. ELK population decline Tule elk once dominated the deer and pronghorn population that also grazed in the San Joaquin Valley. Estimated at more than half a million animals before 1849, tule elk originally ranged from Shasta County C. Hart Merriam photo courtesy of The Bancroft Library A Yokuts family in front of tule summer hut, June 1903 FIRST People For at least 8,000 years, indigenous people (later called the Southern Valley Yokuts) used the abundant resources of the area’s waterways, created by snowmelt runoff from the surrounding mountains. Today these watercourses are known as the lower Kings, Kaweah, Kern and Tule rivers; Tulare, Buena Vista and Kern lakes; and their connecting marshy sloughs. Yokuts people lived in a large village called Tulamniu on the northwestern shore of what was once Buena Vista Lake. Depending on seasonal rainfall and mountain runoff, the lake covered from 60 to 150 square miles. Its tule rush reeds provided the Yokuts building materials for their houses and boats, and the starchy tule roots and seeds were edible. The Yokuts also hunted a variety of game animals. After Spanish settlers and missionaries came and claimed their lands, many Yokuts died from unfamiliar European diseases. Those who survived left their homes along Buena Vista Lake. The people who claimed the Yokuts land sold it to Henry Miller, Charles Lux and James Crocker in 1868; the lake was drained for farmland. Many Southern Valley Yokuts descendants still live in the area and observe their ancient customs and traditions. Central Valley originally provided ideal grazing range for the tule elk. This elk subspecies began Pre-1849 1849 its California decline in the 1700s with the arrival of European settlers. They imported grasses and grazing animals that competed with both native vegetation and Cache Creek native animals. 1860 Present Point Reyes Hunters and Grizzly Island traders further Wildlife Area Owens Valley decimated San Luis NWR the state’s elk Fort Hunter-Liggett population when they began killing Tule Elk SNR them for hide and Wind Wolves Preserve tallow. During and after the Gold Rush, new residents’ demand for elk meat increased. in the north to the base of the Tehachapi By the time elk hunting was banned by the Mountains in the south, and from west of State Legislature in 1873, the tule elk was the Sierra Nevada to the central Pacific believed to be extinct. coast. Tule elk normally form “gangs” of 40 to 60 animals, but some northern Central Preserving the tule Elk Valley herds were thought to number in the thousands. Cattle rancher Henry Miller led a movement Depending on the availability and quality to protect any remaining tule elk by of vegetation, each tule elk needs several providing 600 acres of open range (near acres of forage to thrive. California’s lush today’s preserve) and rewarding his workers RANGE OF CALIFORNIA TULE ELK who informed on an

also available

National Parks