All about Tule Elk…Where to see Tule Elks in California….

posted in: Travel Fun | 4

After walking Tomales Point 
we decided it would be a great idea to learn all about the Tule Elk.
To get started:  learned about the Tule Elk
Tule Elk is the smallest of all the Elk species in Northern America. An adult bull weighs an average of 400-700 pounds. While the adult cow weighs around 375-425 pounds. Tule elk averages 7 feet in length and stands 4-5 feet in height at the shoulder. The male yearlings are known as spikes. They are called Tule Elks because of the Tule reeds the elk eats which grows in marshlands. Tule elk calves are usually born late spring/early summer. They weigh around 20 to 25 pounds at birth. They are usually weaned from their mothers milk at two months of age.
 Antlers are bones. They grow from attached points on the skull called pedicle. When antlers are growing they are covered with vascular skin called velvet. This skin supplies oxygen and nutrients to the growing bone. The velvet has hair, nerves, and blood vessels. On average the antler will grow 0.98 inches a day. Adult bulls antlers can grow up to 3.9 feet and weigh 40 pounds. When the velvet is on the antlers they do not fight with others. They also eat a lot during that time about 8.8 pounds to 15.4 pounds a day of food. When the antlers has become the full size the velvet dries and peels off.  When the velvet peels off they start to fight with other bulls. During this time they eat less because they are busy fighting, defending, and showing off to the cows how strong they are.  Antlers start to grow in the spring and shed in the winter. Usually the antlers do not fall off at the same time. Most often the second will drop 4 to 7 days after casting the first antler. This is why you usually will not find both sets. Some shed antlers earlier if they are not nourished enough. Sometimes older bulls will shed  their antlers first  and it could be because they have used up most of their energy and are worn out. When the antlers fall off squirrels, mice and rats will chew on the antlers. These antlers are full of nutrition.  Female reindeer are the only ones that have antlers. Elk cows do not have antlers.
You might ask what is the difference between deer and elk?  
1.     Elk is larger than a deer 
2.     Elks are louder and communicate bugling calls that can be heard for miles.
3.     Elks are grazers which means that they eat mostly grass. Deer are browsers which means that they eat mostly leaves.
This could be why elks are named cow or bull because cows are grazers as well.
Nearly 4000 Tule Elks are rooming freely in California.
This is actually a low number. Tule Elks are native to California and there was a time when they lived in large numbers in san Joaquin and Sacramento valley. When Europeans first arrived it was estimated that 500,000  Tule Elks roomed the California region. In 1840 they were almost extinct.  So a cattlemen by the name of Henry miller made an effort to save them in 1874.  There was only a small herd left and in 1932 the herd was given a permanent  protection on the land known as Tule Elk State Natural Reserve.
In 2009, over 440 Tule Elks were counted at Tomales point , which makes the Point Reyes herds one of the largest population in California.
2. We made antlers using bamboo sticks, floral wire, hot glue, pipe cleaners, and a head band. First you have to make sure both of the bamboo sticks are the same size. Try not to make them too long because they will be too heavy and will be too hard to wear. Put the bamboo stick on the head piece and start wrapping the bamboo stick and head piece with wire then with pipe cleaners. Add hot glue and then some more pipe cleaners. You can add points to the antlers. Wrap pipe cleaners all over the bamboo stick so that the bamboo stick would not be seen.



3. Make a large image of the Elk Tule. Use painting paper that you can get at Lowes. Length needs to be a little over 7 feet and the height needs to be 6 feet. When drawing the Tule Elk have the height of the shoulder be 5 feet. Now you and your children can see how big an average bull is.



3. See the Tule Elk in real life by hiking Tamales Point at Point Reyes National Park.

Get to the point ! Tamales point that is…..

The parking lot for the trail head is at the historic ranch known as Pierce Point Ranch which was built in the 1860’s and was the most successful butter rancho in its time. You can still look inside the hay barn and the other building there.  The trail wraps around the ranch and goes around the coast of the ocean. Wild flowers blanket the hills throughout the trail. A short distance down the trail the view of Tomales Bay opens up and all of a sudden you find yourself on a thin stretch of land with Tomales Bay views to the right and Pacific Ocean views to the left. Shortly down the trail you come across Tule Elks. Tomales Point has one of the largest population of Tule Elk  in California. In 2009, over 440 Tule Elks were counted here. To the right of the trail you come across a pond where different wild life can be observed. Very few trees are seen on the trail. Green cypress and eucalyptus are the only trees seen lined up in a row. As you get closer to the point of the trail it no longer seems like a hiking trail but feels like your walking up a sand dune.  Here you will see the beautiful Cobwebby Thristle (Cirsium Occidentale) which is native to California and usually grows 3 to 4 feet tall. It blooms late spring/early summer. At last you go up  the last hill where the land ends and you are finally at Tomales point. Here waves collide into the narrow point. Many sea birds around the outer rocks can be seen. These rocks peak out from the ocean like tiny islands. As you sit down to have your lunch you can think of no better place to be but here.

 This is a 9.5 mile hike in and out with an elevation gain of 1,200 feet. This is not a loop trail so if you miss something you will get to see it again. On this trail you will see views of the Tomales Bay, the Pacific Ocean, and the Bodega Bay.




4 Responses

  1. I could definitely see using this in our family Christmas card this year 🙂

  2. I could definitely see using this in our family Christmas card this year 🙂

  3. What a great learning experience for your children! We use to go looking for elk in Northern Michigan when I was a child. It was always so much fun! Thank you for sharing at the #Made4Kids Link Up!

  4. What a great learning experience for your children! We use to go looking for elk in Northern Michigan when I was a child. It was always so much fun! Thank you for sharing at the #Made4Kids Link Up!

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