Resource Management

Tule Elk Management

Tule Elk History

[Photograph]: Tule Elk herd.Although smaller than the Roosevelt elk, the Tule elk is one of the largest land mammals native to California. These elk likely evolved from Rocky Mountain elk in California during the Pleistocene era. Tule elk made a lasting impression on the first Europeans to arrive here. Accounts from journals and diaries of these early explorers indicate that approximately 500,000 Tule elk inhabited much of the oak-woodland and oak-grassland of their original environment.

The discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in 1848 brought about the greatest impact on the Tule elk population. The gold rush era resulted in tremendous pressures placed on the Golden State's wildlife resources due in part to market hunters and, more importantly, the competition with livestock and the conversion of perennial grasslands to agricultural farming. By the late 1860s, Tule elk were exterminated from all but one small locale in the southern San Joaquin Valley.

The United States Congress passed a public law in 1976 requiring suitable Federal Lands be made available for Tule elk. The Tule Elk Interagency Task Force was established in 1977 and this Task Force prepared an aggressive re-introduction program. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Tule elk were introduced to the Lake Pillsbury Basin, and today you can often view them living on the north side of Lake Pillsbury.

Current Projects

[Photograph]: Checking the medical condition of an elk.The US Forest Service, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the California State Department of Fish and Game, and the California Deer Association are cooperating to improve habitat for Tule elk and deer in the Lake Pillsbury Basin.

Projects include prescribed buring and brush manipulation to improve forage. Radio telemetry is being conducted, hoping to determine what areas the elk are concentrating in and where they are calving. Interpretive signs have been created and placed within the Lake Pillsbury Basin.

Future Projects

Future goals to improve habitat for Tule elk in the Lake Pillsbury Basin include continuing burning and more brush manipulation projects. Numerous areas around the basin have the potential to be thinned.

Other ideas include native seed distribution and star thistle control. Radio telemetry will continue to gain additional information as to the exact habitats the elk are utilizing. With the help of our partners, we can continue to improve the habitat.





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