Twenty wildlife and national park protectors recently defied National Park Service (NPS) orders for a second time and risked getting arrested while participating in a bold, carefully planned, nighttime operation, to bring 150 gallons of water to the Tule elk. The move follows the tragic passing of more than 18 Tule elk this year who died in the reserve at Point Reyes National Seashore due to California’s drought.
As previously reported by WAN, the animals are blocked from reaching perennial sources by an eight-foot-tall fence. The action took place before the winter rains came, but were thwarted by the NPS which removed troughs before the thirsty Tule elk could drink.
“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 an email sent to WAN. “Removing water from thirsty and dying rare Tule elk is despicable. Bay Area residents overwhelmingly want these native wild animals protected over private interests. We support the merciful actions of these brave animal activists and urge everyone to take urgent action to save the Tule elk.”
Video recorded by Silver Reaction Media shows a peaceful but physically demanding action with over a dozen animal advocates hauling water hundreds of yards over rough terrain and in coastal fog.
Off-camera, others kept watch, signaling any arrival of sheriff and park rangers. They were quiet, using minimal light, so park visitors, rangers, and live-in ranchers would remain unaware of the groups actions. However, the video shows that rangers discovered the activists, confronted them, and vowed to remove the water.
Concerned citizens had previously delivered fresh drinking water and troughs to the elk, only to have it taken away within days by NPS staff. The NPS’ refusal to provide water for these elk is a disturbing repeat of the similar “forced die-off” that the agency created in the California drought of 2013-2014, which killed around half of the nation’s largest herd of 540 Tule elk. It has taken years for the herd to recover to just 420 individuals today.
This year, the NPS not only refused to act again but deliberately removed water from hundreds of animals trapped in the unnatural elk reserve enclosure. The needless suffering and deaths of the elk are among the numerous, egregious, anti-wildlife, and pro-industry policies that park rangers are required to enforce at the Seashore.
Currently, over a third of the Point Reyes Park’s so-called “wilderness area” is occupied by modern industrial animal businesses which supply beef and milk to brands including Clover Sonoma, Straus Family Creamery, Nicasio Valley Cheese Company, and Cowgirl Creamery.
Despite widespread public opposition, in September, the NPS released a management plan that would extend these private beef and dairy leases to ranchers from five-years to 20-years. In addition to expanding industrial operations inside this national park, they will allow the shooting of native Tule elk.
Ranchers supplying these dairy companies do not own the Point Reyes land that their cattle degrades and pollutes. They sold their properties to the federal government for the equivalent of $350 million in the 1960’s to establish the park, and now lease back the land at under-market rates. Maintenance on the concentrated animal feeding operations is funded by taxpayers.
Thousands of American citizens and dozens of local organizations including In Defense of Animals, ForELK, TreeSpirit Project, Rancho Compasión, Save Point Reyes National Seashore, Resource Renewal Institute, The Center for Biological Diversity, and Western Watersheds Project are lobbying for a plan that would remove all livestock operations from Point Reyes. This plan would restore its creators’ original vision of a truly wild and pristine national park in the San Francisco Bay Area, remove fencing to allow Tule elk to roam free, and improve opportunities for the park’s 1.7 million annual visitors.
“The 340+ miles of fencing, erected only at the request of the commercial cattle operations, is a direct contradiction of a national park’s purpose: being one of the few places in America where our priceless heritage of precious few remaining wild animals are safe from threats of hunting, development, and businesses,” stated Jack Gescheidt, of TreeSpirit Project.
People are urged to email their concerns to the California Coastal Commission encouraging them to REJECT the National Park Service’s recommended management plan which expands this National Seashore’s cruel beef and dairy operations at the expense of its wildlife.
E-mail: email@example.com or sign the In Defense of Animals petition, HERE!
You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg