MEDIA RELEASE: Demonstrators Mourn the Death of a National Park at Point Reyes

MEDIA RELEASE: Demonstrators Mourn the Death of a National Park at Point Reyes

Point Reyes, Calif. (Nov 24, 2020) — Over 50 members of the public gathered with In Defense of Animals, ForELK, and TreeSpirit Project at a demonstration and memorial service on Saturday, November 21, to mourn the preventable deaths of over 15 Tule elk at Point Reyes National Seashore, as a result of ongoing mismanagement by the National Park Service (NPS)

The activists who attended were also raising awareness about a cruel and highly controversial plan recently put forward that would kill yet more of the rare elk and other native plants and wild animals on behalf of ranchers operating in this national park.

The heartfelt memorial and demonstration titled, “The Death of a National Park,” held the Park Service accountable to its core mission: to value and protect wildlife and wildlands above all else. 

“People of all ages were sobbing as they laid flowers at the altar activists constructed to honor the Tule elk,” said Lisa Levinson of In Defense of Animals. “These native animals would still be alive if they hadn’t been prevented from reaching water by fencing constructed inside a national park unit, to benefit for-profit ranchers. Private industry is wiping out wild animals and habitats around the world, and tragically the Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County is even more disturbing: this is a planned die-off orchestrated inside a National Park. And there’s worse still to come for the wild animals. The NPS will soon start its sickening plan to literally start shooting some Tule elk to death, each year, simply because that’s what ranchers want.”

For the demonstration, mourners built a tall altar with photos of the elk, plus small artworks, and other symbols of respect. Participant-mourners read heartfelt poems and testimonials to honor the elk, then processed to the altar one by one to pay their respects with personal prayers and by laying down flowers.


One of the Tule elk who died at the Point Reyes National Seashore this year. Original photo: Matthew Polvorosa Kline

Alternative B of the new General Management Plan announced by the NPS on September 18, prescribes annually shooting some Tule elk, which the NPS calls “managing” the herd.  

The new NPS plan would see the seashore run more like a private ranch than a national park. In addition to shooting wild animals, the Park Service would:

  • Extend private ranch leases from 5 to 20 years — even though ranchers originally agreed in 1962 to leave the park by 1987 and were paid millions of dollars to do so;
  • Allow the private, for-profit ranches to plant row crops;
  • Allow ranches and dairies roadside concessions and overnight guest accommodations;
  • Expand commercial animal operations which currently degrade over 26,000 of the seashore and surrounding national parkland’s 71,000 acres;
  • Add more cows to an estimated 5,600 now in the park —  more than there are Tule elk (approx. 5,000) left in the world; 
  • Allow all ranchers to kill and “process” farmed animals on-site;
  • Allow other farmed animals, including goats, sheep, and chickens, thus exacerbating existing conflicts between ranchers and the park’s wild, natural predators like mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes.

These pro-private business NPS recommendations contradict the public’s preference: 91% of 7,624 respondents in an NPS survey wanted Point Reyes’ Tule elk protected, not cattle ranching.

Thousands of U.S. citizens and dozens of local organizations including In Defense of Animals, ForELK, TreeSpirit Project, Rancho Compasión, Save Point Reyes National Seashore, Resource Renewal Institute, The Center for Biological Diversity, and Western Watersheds Project, support Alternative F, which would phase out private ranches over five years and allow elk — and human visitors — thousands of more acres to roam free.


Take action to save the Tule elk:




In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization based in Marin with over 250,000 supporters and a 37-year history of protecting animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats through education, campaigns, and hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi.

ForELK is a grassroots organization of people who fight for the protection of the Tule elk and their habitat within Point Reyes National Seashore. It works toward public engagement through education, direct outreach, network building, political demonstrations, and protests.

TreeSpirit Project is a celebration of our interdependence with nature. Thousands of people have participated in his fine art photography sessions to raise awareness of the critical role of trees and wild spaces in our lives.

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