The National Park Service announced a plan for Point Reyes National Seashore to commercial cattle ranching at the cost of local wildlife. In particular, the plan calls for killing native tule elk and for ecological activity that puts other wildlife at risk. The Park Service plans to extend 20-year commercial leases to 15 private dairy and beef cattle ranches on 26,100 acres of Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area lands in Marin County.
The plan will also give permission for the Park Service to shoot native tule elk to appease ranchers and drive elk away from designated ranch lands. It sets an arbitrary population cap of 120 elk for the Drakes Beach herd, currently estimated at 138 elk, to be maintained by killing the animals. The Park Service can shoot any free-roaming elk that attempt to create new herds in the park, which is the only national park with tule elk. In addition, the plan also allows conversion of park grasslands and wildlife habitat to artichoke farms and other row crops, as well as the expansion of commercial livestock farming to introduce sheep, goats, pigs or chickens. This will lead to conflicts with other native wildlife in the park and could result in ranchers calling for killing of coyotes, bobcats, foxes and numerous birds. Yet the final plan authorizes excessive levels of cattle stocking that have led to overgrazing, significant soil erosion, degradation of water quality, damage to endangered species habitat and spread of invasive plants in the park.
“This is a disaster for wildlife and a stunning mismanagement of one of America’s most beautiful national parks,” said Jeff Miller at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Park Service is greenlighting the slaughter of native wildlife in Point Reyes. After the elk, the next likely victims will be birds, bobcats, foxes and coyotes. This plan is illegal and immoral, and we're going to do everything we can to stop it.”
Letting elk roam free is critical to their survival. The Tomales Point elk herd in northern Point Reyes National Seashore is trapped behind a fence on a peninsula to appease ranchers, confined in an area with scarce water during dry years. More than 250 elk, more than half of the Tomales herd, died during drought from 2012-2014.
(article research found here )