|Tule Elk -- Point Reyes National Seashore, CA|
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, f/5, 1/1600s, ISO:400
As I recall, this group of elk was pretty close to the trail heading out to Tomales Point. That's always a fun hike to take in the fall. The elk are in rut and quite active.
Tule elk are smaller than Roosevelt and Rocky Mountain elk, but with males weighing in at five hundred pounds or so they are still large animals. I've read that their small size may be due to poor nourishment. Some people claim tule elk can grow to be nine hundred pounds, meaning they are potentially the same size as the other American breeds of elk. I haven't seen any that big.
Tule elk are only found in California. There used to be hundreds of thousands of these animals roaming the wilderness but by the late nineteenth century they had been reduced to a very small number of individuals (a single breeding pair or up to thirty animals depending on the source). They were discovered by a game warden and Henry Miller, the rancher who owned the land they were found on, protected them. Today, Point Reyes is struggling to keep the herds numbers in control. I read they were going to sterilize some of the females but I don't know if that ever happened.
Photo selection inspired by Geogypsy's Foto Friday Fun 192, image #4754.