Tule Elk graze at Point Reyes National Seashore

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Feds Propose Culling Elk Herd In Drakes Beach To Help Ranchers

KCBS Radio Afternoon News
August 09, 2019 - 12:00 pm

The National Park Service wants to limit the tule elk population at Drakes Beach in order to make room for cattle grazing.

Native elk are eating too much of the grass that farmers and ranchers in the Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area use to feed their cattle, the park service said. 

About two dozen beef and dairy ranches currently have leases on parts of the national seashore and park.

The agency is considering a number of proposals to manage the land, including reducing or eliminating ranching and removing the elk herd from Drakes Beach altogether.

But parks officials are leaning towards a plan to limit the herd to 120 adult elk, which the agency says would require them to kill about 10 to 15 elk each year. The venison would be donated to charity.

Related: Petition To Protect The "Surprise Seal Pups" on Drakes Beach

Environmental groups are opposing that plan which they believe would "enshrine cattle grazing as the primary use of a huge swath of the National Seashore,” said Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity, “at the expense of native wildlife and natural habitats."

"The plan would destroy wildlife habitat, harm endangered species, degrade water quality and lead to killing of some of the park's most iconic wildlife, including tule elk,” said Miller.

The park service is taking public comment on the proposals until September 23 and will hold two hearings, from 5-7 p.m. on August 27 at the West Marin School gym in Point Reyes Station, and August 28 at the Bay Model Visitor Center in Sausalito.