Levine asks for quick tule elk relief

02/06/2014

At the request of Point Reyes ranchers, State Assemblyman Mark Levine sent a letter to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on Jan. 22, asking the agency to consider helping Point Reyes National Seashore producers affected by the intrusion of tule elk on agricultural lands. Since a free-ranging herd was established in the wilderness area over a decade ago, some elk have migrated to the pastoral zone, where about 75 now reside, competing with cattle for valuable forage and damaging property. Mr. Levine wrote that although the park service plans to address the problem in the long term with a ranching and dairying management plan, short-term assistance is critical. He asked the department what it plans to do to help ranchers with their plight. “That’s great, let’s have a long-term plan, but let’s have short-term relief,” he told the Light. He also asked what the state considers to be limitations to the transfer of elk. The park has also argued that its 1998 elk management plan—which it now says is invalid, anyway—does not provide guidance for the removal of elk from the pastoral zone, only from private property. Ranchers have replied that the plan does not explicitly prohibit the removal of elk from the pastoral zone. A spokeswoman for the state agency declined to comment on Mr. Levine’s letter.