Outgrowing original management plans drafted in the 1980s, California wildlife officials are heading back to the drawing board.
According to officials with California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, the state’s elk populations have increased from 3,500 to 13,000 over the last four decades. These numbers show the need for a new plan that will continue to allow these majestic creatures to flourish.
California’s Diversity
North America is home to three distinct species of elk; Roosevelt, Rocky Mountain and Tule elk. While the state does have populations of all three species, it is the only place on the planet to find the tule species. Considered to be the smallest of the elk species on the continent, Tule elk get by on a species of sedge called tule, as their name suggests.
Current reports state strong populations of all three species within California’s borders: 5,700 Tule elk, 5,000-6,000 Roosevelt elk and 1,500 Rocky Mountain elk.
The Plan
As fun as it is to remain in the 1980s, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has tabled a plan for the 21st century. Tracking the state’s 22 individual herds of elk over the past few decades, the updated plan will coordinate past efforts.
“This draft plan is an important milestone for many of our wildlife program staff, and we’re pleased to be one step closer to completion,” said CDFW Wildlife Branch Chief Kari Lewis. “Public feedback is a critical part of shaping this effort, which emphasizes the sharing of resources and collaboration with all parties interested in elk and elk management. These are essential for effective management of California’s elk populations.”
The plan will improve genetic diversity, grazing lands and boost populations by another ten percent. The plan is open for public comment until January 29, 2018.