MEDIA RELEASE: Alexandra Paul & Bonnie-Jill Laflin Message at San Francisco Rally: Free Rare Tule Elk
SAN FRANCISCO (Dec. 6, 2021) — Alexandra Paul and Bonnie-Jill Laflin have joined the rapidly growing call to remove polluting factory farming operations and free precious remaining Tule elk being starved to death at Point Reyes National Seashore.
Video (free for use with credits per filename): https://bit.ly/SfElkRallyVid
Images (free for use with credits per filename): https://bit.ly/SfElkRallyPix
Known for playing Lt. Stephanie Holden on Baywatch, actress Alexandra Paul addressed a rally to free the Tule elk on Saturday, December 4, via a recorded message on a huge video screen. “The elk deserve better than what they're getting, so much better. They should be freed from all fences at Point Reyes... ranches pollute the park’s land, pollute their waterways, even the air we breathe. Ranches contribute to our climate crisis. Cattle and dairy businesses have no business being in this or any national park.”
Sportscaster and former NBA scout Bonnie-Jill Laflin joined the rally in person and passionately addressed the crowd: “As a little girl, I was fascinated with them [Tule elk] and their beauty... I was heartbroken to see... they're dying miserable deaths... Now the NPS supports a plan to shoot some of the Tule elk at the request of the ranchers, and I was outraged because if animals can't be saved at a National Park, where can they be saved? The Tule elk are rare animals who deserve protection and not a bullet from the cattle ranchers.”
In Defense of Animals, TreeSpirit Project, Turtle Island Restoration Network, and Western Watersheds Project hosted the rally in response to the National Park Service’s (NPS) new General Management Plan. Adopted this September, the NPS has doubled down on its shocking, pro-cattle industry, anti-wildlife policies at Point Reyes National Seashore — which have killed over 406 of the park’s rare, iconic Tule elk in just one decade.
“The NPS’ General Management Plan continues and extends its Tule elk-killing, wildlife-harming, and ecologically devastating policies, giving cattle businesses new 20-year lease extensions — and now for the first time authorizes shooting some Tule elk to death. That’s what’s in store for beautiful, wild elk in one of the park’s two other herds outside the deadly Reserve,” said Fleur Dawes, Communication Director for In Defense of Animals. “The destruction of our Seashore is horrific, unacceptable, and politically motivated. Representative Jared Huffman must stop prioritizing donations from the animal agriculture industry over the will of the American public who want our lands and Tule elk freed from ranchers’ tyranny.”
Environmentalists, Indigenous peoples’ rights representatives, biologists, conservationists, wildlife advocates, animal rights activists, and members of the public demonstrated at San Francisco’s Crissy Field, to expose the financial and political corruption driving the NPS’ betrayal of its mission to protect the wild animals and preserve wild lands inside this unique California coastal national park.
Theresa Harlan, who serves as the advocate for Indigenous Access to Homelands on Public Lands, called to rematriate ancestral lands and reaffirm nature at Point Reyes National Seashore. Photo: Tony Sehgal, Silver Reaction Media
Theresa Harlan, who serves as the advocate for Indigenous Access to Homelands on Public Lands, said, “[My Coast Miwok family] lived the sustainable life as their ancestors did until it was ended in the 1950s by ranchers who unjustly evicted my family... The ranches are literally built on the bones of Coast Miwok people on shell mounds... This is unjust... It's a story of systemic racism that buries the significance of Coast Miwok resilience and attempts to keep the myth alive that Native people are defeated. We are not.”
Demonstrators at Crissy Field, overlooked by the Golden Gate Bridge, created a huge, 406-elk graveyard to dramatize the alarming number of rare Tule elk killed by NPS policies. The largest remaining population of elk is trapped behind a deadly 3-mile long, 8-foot-high fence that blocks access to adequate food and water in the national park.
Demonstrators at Crissy Field created a huge graveyard to illustrate the alarming number of rare Tule elk killed by NPS pro-ranching policies at Point Reyes National Seashore. Photo: Jack Gescheidt/TreeSpiritProject.com
By the NPS’ most recent annual count, 152 elk died in one single year, from 2020 to 2021. This year’s (2021 to 2022) Tule elk death toll has yet to be announced and is expected to be delayed, as it was last year, because of the anticipated public relations fallout.
“There are fewer than 590 iconic Tule elk at Point Reyes and half of them are trapped inside a fenced, drought-stricken “Reserve” where they die by the hundreds, all at the request of private cattle operations merely leasing public land in this public park. The public doesn’t know these ugly truths, so we’re gonna tell them, and they’ll be outraged like we are,” said Jack Gescheidt of In Defense of Animals and TreeSpirit Project.
A terrible example is being set at Point Reyes during the climate crisis, with its beef and dairy ranches generating more greenhouse gases (plus more soil, water, and marine pollution) than the Seashore’s 2,000,000 annual visitors’ vehicles.
The NPS General Management Plan grants cattle operations 20-year leases at half-market value rates. So taxpayers are unwittingly subsidizing the very industries destroying the park, and wreaking havoc on the climate.
“We should not be supplying American tax dollars toward unsustainable welfare ranching that pollutes the only national seashore on the Pacific Ocean. Our government should be working for us, not the few elites responsible for the degradation of vulnerable coastal and riparian habitat,” said Scott Webb, Advocacy and Policy Manager at Turtle Island Restoration Network.
The NPS is betraying the public’s trust, and its charter mission to prioritize wild animals and wild lands in an American national park. They are systematically killing the few hundred remaining wild Tule elk in its care — along with other wild animals who are fenced off, chased off, and forced off the 28,000 acres of land given over to the resource-intensive and extractive cattle industry.
“Point Reyes National Seashore was formed to protect and restore this beautiful coastline and its adjacent marine waters, which are a biodiversity hotspot not only for Tule elk, but also for rare plants and butterflies, coho salmon, steelhead trout, the California red-legged frog, elephant seals, whales, river otters, bobcats, snowy plovers, and many more species,” said Laura Cunningham, California Director at Western Watersheds Project. “Now is the time to restore the Seashore and not continue to trash the legacy of thousands of years of Coast Miwok caretaking of these coastal prairies and ocean habitats.”
In Defense of Animals, TreeSpirit Project, Turtle Island Restoration Network, Western Watersheds Project and other animal, wildlife, and national park activists will continue to speak out against the planned shooting of Tule elk, and for the removal of the fence that lethally confines Tule elk, plus hundreds of miles of additional ranch fencing which restricts the public’s access to their national Seashore.
The only sane, defensible, ecologically justifiable solution is to remove all private, commercial cattle businesses from this unique, precious national park.
The public is encouraged to learn more and take action: http://www.idausa.org/elk
- In Defense of Animals/TreeSpirit Project, Jack Gescheidt, [email protected], 415-488-4200
- Turtle Island Restoration Network, Scott Webb, [email protected], 707-921-8211
- Western Watersheds Project, Laura Cunningham, [email protected], 775-513-1280
In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization based in Marin, California, with over 250,000 supporters and a 38-year history of fighting for animals, people, and the environment through education and campaigns, as well as hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi. www.idausa.org/elk
The TreeSpirit Project raises awareness of the crucial role of forest, wildlife and the natural world in the lives of humans. Thousands of people have taken part in fine art community photographs that give people a sensory, real-world experience of this interconnection, beyond the virtual internet. https://treespiritproject.com
Turtle Island Restoration Network is a global ocean conservation nonprofit based in Olema, California, whose mission is to inspire and mobilize people worldwide to protect marine biodiversity and the oceans that sustain all life on Earth. http://www.SeaTurtles.org
Western Watersheds Project is a conservation nonprofit working to protect watersheds and wildlife in the American West. Since 1993 we’ve been uncompromising in our commitment addressing public lands livestock problems. https://www.westernwatersheds.org
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