Target: Charleton H. Bonham, Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Goal: Push for a comprehensive management plan to protect California’s rare elk populations.
In the 1870s, a once thriving population of 500,000 tule elk (California’s only endemic elk species) became drastically reduced due to overhunting and habitat loss to just two individuals–one male and one female. Today, thanks to state-sponsored conservation efforts, 403,000 elk roam California, according to a recent article in the LA Times. Even though these populations are already isolated throughout the state, which actually threatens their ability to reproduce as a species, many California farmers and ranchers feel that their way of life is now being threatened. Push to continue protections for these unique, iconic animals with a conservation management plan to balance both interests.
The recovery of the tule elk population stands as a major environmental success story. The tule elk has become a unique attraction for tourists visiting the Tule Elk State Natural Reserve to view a herd of these peaceful creatures.
Still, increasing ill-feeling among dairy farmers and ranchers makes the need for political action all the more urgent. With social tolerance for tule elk decreasing every day, government conservation efforts have been greatly diminished in turn. According to the LA Times, California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife has been caught in the middle, and so have “quietly stopped” expanding herds of tule elk, which are not officially threatened or endangered.
Remembering that it was a cattleman, Henry Miller, who led efforts to restore populations of these animals in 1874, offers some hope for a plan that eases the stress of farmers and ranchers while maintaining populations of tule elk. Please sign the petition below and help save this rare species from extinction by urging the Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to maintain current conservation efforts.
Dear Director Bonham,
I am writing in order to bring your attention to the growing conflict between cattle ranchers and farmers and thriving populations of tule elk. Once nearly extinct in the 1870s, the tule elk experienced a dramatic recovery, thanks to state-sponsored conservation efforts. Today, however, I understand that due to low political support, your agency has been focusing on responding to complaints of “excess elk,” rather than expanding populations, according to a recent article in the LA Times.
I urge you to lead the way in creating a conservation management plan for tule elk populations. Your leadership is essential to maintaining the well-being of both California’s farmers and ranchers and the tule elk populations.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Gary R. Zahm, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Wikimedia Commons