In a move long-awaited by animal advocates, the National Park Service (NPS) has finally proposed taking down a fence that confines rare Tule Elk to a fraction of the Point Reyes National Seashore. 

Alternative B would allow the elk, currently in a 2,900 acre area of poor forage known as the “Preserve,” to finally roam free! It also would allow the NPS to consider building a fence to keep privately-owned cattle from entering Tomales Point.

But the other two alternatives would leave the fence where it is, and one would allow staff to shoot the rare elk to death. So it’s critical that you make your voice heard before 10:59 p.m. on Sept. 25, when public comments close!

The NPS, in its official announcement, noted the new proposal comes on the heels of two fatal droughts in the past eight years that reduced the Tomales Point herd from 445 elk to 292 elk.

“Current management guidance for this area did not anticipate these drought conditions or consider climate change,” the NPS said. 

But the proposal also comes following two federal lawsuits alleging negligence and violations of the law, reports of serious environmental contamination from privately-owned cattle allowed to graze on the public lands, and the outrage of thousands of people — including the 36,755 people who signed our petition — over the treatment of these precious elk. 

About one-third of Tomales Point’s elk herd — or a reported 152 elk — died during California’s 2020 drought, reportedly from dehydration and starvation. Free-roaming elk outside the fenced area did not experience the same population fluctuations or declines.

Chance Cutrano, programs director for The Resource Renewal Institute — an environmental organization that is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging the NPS’s treatment of the elk to date — said elk must be protected “in a manner that protects that population’s health, safety and ecological integrity.”

“The real thing is how to make sure as many people as possible are aware of the opportunity to comment on this potential future for the tule elk herd, which has been one of the main focal points for management of the seashore, especially with the die-offs in the recent drought years,” he said.

Following the 31-day comment period, the NPS will evaluate feedback and draft an environmental impact statement. Then there will be another public comment period prior to an expected final decision next summer.

We must speak up now for elk and voice our support of Alternative B! These elk already are facing enough of a threat from climate change, thirst, and malnutrition — they need all the support they can get!

Please take a moment to speak up for elk by telling the National Park Service that you support the proposal to remove the fence for elk and allow them to roam free (Alternative B). 

The NPS prefers comments to be submitted via their online form here (Click the green “Comment” button). You can also mail your comment to Tomales Point Area Plan c/o Superintendent, Point Reyes National Seashore, 1 Bear Valley Road, Point Reyes Station, 94956.

All comments must be received by 10:59 p.m. on Sept. 25. 

Please note that NPS is only accepting comments by online form or mail; they will not accept comments by phone, email, or fax.

Then, if you haven’t already, please sign our petition urging the NPS to take down this elk fence! We will make sure to submit our own comments — including the count of all the people who have spoken up for elk — during the public comment period, so your signature does make a difference!

SIGN: Take Down Fence to Save Rare Tule Elk From Starving to Death