Rat poison killed the mountain lion known as P-34


Martha Groves4 hrs ago

Encounters between rats and mountain lions generally have predictable outcomes. The prey dies so that the predator can live.

But as civilization continues to push into landscapes once populated mainly by non-human species, the balance has shifted. People use highly toxic poisons to kill rats, then the low-on-the-food chain rodents take the apex-predator big cats down with them.

On Tuesday, this upending of the natural order gave Southern California activists another poster animal for their movement, as the National Park Service confirmed that the once-photogenic mountain lion known as P-34 died of exposure to rat poisons.

A necropsy of the puma, whose carcass had been found by a trail runner in Point Mugu State Park on Sept. 30, validated the initial suspicions of biologists who found blood running freely inside the dead female.

Rat poisons, or rodenticides, are designed to kill rodents by thinning their blood and preventing clotting. They lead to uncontrollable bleeding.

In addition to proving deadly for their intended targets, these poisons can wreak havoc as they work their way up the food chain. A mountain lion might devour a ground squirrel that consumed the bait or an animal such as a coyote that had eaten another animal that had the bait in its system.

“This is the latest indication that local wildlife continues to be exposed to these rodent poisons,” said Seth Riley, a wildlife ecologist who has led a long-term study of mountain lions in the park service’s Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Scientists said Tuesday that evidence was mounting that California’s July 2014 ban on retail sales of certain highly toxic rat poisons – called second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides – has not produced the far-reaching benefits that researchers had hoped.

“I thought there would be more improvement than I’m actually seeing,” said Stella McMillin, senior environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We’re still seeing non-target exposure at pretty high levels.”

Although consumers may no longer buy these “super toxins” off the shelf, farmers and licensed pest-control companies regularly use them. Bait boxes have become ubiquitous accessories outside restaurants, hotels and grocery stores.

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Moreover, other rat poisons that consumers are still allowed to use are increasingly showing up in wildlife, said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director with the Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit advocacy group in Oakland.

Wildlife deaths continue to demonstrate the “need to ban these products from the market,” he said. He and other activists have met with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to point out loopholes in the ban.

“We continue to call on state regulators to ban these poisons to protect California’s most iconic and imperiled wildlife,” Evans said. Consumers and businesses, he added, must consider using other rodent-control methods that “do not involve killing predators that are part of the solution.”

P-34, who was not quite 2 years old, showed evidence of exposure to five compounds, “an impressive number,” Riley said.

Last December, P-34 made news when she was discovered lounging under a trailer in a Newbury Park mobile home community. A resident photographed the lion ambling along the top of a wall in her backyard.

P-34’s was the first puma death conclusively linked to rat poisons since 2004, when scientists confirmed that two siblings died because of exposure to the toxic chemicals. Those lions, P-3 and P-4, spent most of their time in the Simi Hills, north of the 101 Freeway.

In 2012, a hiker in Point Mugu State Park found the carcass of a female lion known as P-25. The cause of death was never determined, but toxicity from rat poisons was strongly suspected, given that she showed no sign of disease or having fought with another lion.

P-34’s sibling, the male P-32, was struck and killed by a motorist in August while attempting to cross Interstate 5 near Castaic.

P-32, who was about 21 months old, was the only male mountain lion known to have dispersed out of the Santa Monica Mountains and wander north into other habitat areas. He had managed to cross the 101 Freeway, State Route 23, Highway 118 and Highway 126.

Park service researchers have documented the presence of rodenticide compounds in 12 of 13 mountain lions they have tested, including a 3-month-old kitten.

Scores of bobcats, coyotes and other animals are known to have died from internal bleeding likely caused by the toxins.

In 2014, P-22, the Griffith Park mountain lion, famously developed a case of mange that biologists said was probably caused by exposure to rat poisons. A park service biologist applied a topical treatment and injected Vitamin K to offset the effects. Recent images of P-22 indicate that he remains mange-free.

World’s Largest Wildlife Corridor to Be Built in California

James William Gibson, Earth Island Journal | September 27, 2015

Earlier this month an obscure Los Angeles area regional public lands agency—the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority—announced the first stages of a five-year plan to build one of the largest wildlife corridors in the world. The goal is to create a natural looking bridge that will allow a small cougar population in the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area the chance to escape north into much larger public lands, while at the same time allowing northern mountain lions the chance to move south and help out the badly inbred and lethally infighting Santa Monica cougars.

Although a young female from the Santa Monica Mountains, P33, did successfully cross Highway 101 in March this year, her escape north is a rare event. Photo credit: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
Although a young female from the Santa Monica Mountains, P33, did successfully cross Highway 101 in March this year, her escape north is a rare event. Photo credit: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

The proposed bridge will leap over Highway 101, an eight-lane, east-west freeway in LA’s northern suburbs that sees 175,000 car trips a day. The bridge will be built at Liberty Canyon in the suburb of Agoura and when completed will be 200 feet-long and 165 feet-wide. It will be landscaped to blend in with the brushy hills and sound walls along the edge of the bridge will “mitigate traffic noise and block light in order to make the crossing more conducive to wildlife,” says the project study report. The bridge will extend beyond the 101, reaching over an access road south of the highway, necessitating the construction of a tunnel. Estimated cost of the entire project: about $57 million.

Despite the report’s dull bureaucratic language—mountain lion sex is blandly described as “the exchange of genetic material”—at its heart the proposed Liberty Canyon wildlife corridor represents an astonishing effort to reverse decades of suburban sprawl and fragmentation of the region’s surviving open spaces.

The campaign’s iconic poster boy is the famous “Hollywood lion,” also known by its wildlife ID number, “P22.” In 2012, P22 crossed two major freeways and migrated roughly 40 miles from the Santa Monica Mountains along the coast to Los Angeles’s 4300-acre Griffith Park on the city’s eastside. There he took up residence, feeding on the park’s mule deer and soon became a national celebrity of sorts.

More: http://ecowatch.com/2015/09/27/worlds-largest-wildlife-corridor-california/

Let’s Clean Up Our Language…Cigarettes come in packs, wolves come in families!

by Oliver Starr

Like all of you, I was overjoyed to hear the extraordinary news that a new wolf family has made California their home. For the first time in nearly 100 years the howls of WILD WOLF PUPPIES are gracing the slopes of Mt Shasta! How fitting that such a picturesque location would host such an important guest.

But my joy quickly turned to dismay when I saw that once again, as a community, we are making a mistake in our collective use of language and this mistake is harming wolves.

People that know wolves are well aware that groups of wolves are families — not “gangs of associated animals”. The term “pack” as defined by Webster’s provides many meanings for the word; most of them negative, none of them having anything in common with the reality of wolves: http://www.dict.org/bin/Dict…*

When we use the term “pack” to refer to wolf families, we “de-humanize” the species and we diminish what they are. The use of the term “pack” when applied to wolves is not only biologically inaccurate, it plays into the hands of those that hate them. It’s one thing for “Wildlife Services” to say, they’re eliminating the Wedge Pack, then if they told the truth and said they were going in to kill the Wedge Family of Wolves.

Even as I write this, I am watching tweets appear announcing the “Shasta Pack” in Northern California, I’ve received at least half a dozen emails from NGO’s and seen more news items than I can count announcing the same thing.

But imagine the even more positive nature of this news if the headlines read like this instead:

“California Welcomes Shasta Wolf Family as Species Gains Ground in West”

“CDFW Reports New Wolf Family Confirmed Via Camera Trap: Meet The “Shasta’s”

“Shasta Family: newest wolves to grace the Siskiyou…”

It’s a small change in language but one that gives a vastly different impression. It’s also a distinction that’s factually true. We can help the wolf by taking control of this language and consistently bringing this point home.

I know there are many others among you that share this conviction, one I owe to the late Gordon Haber. So for Gordon and for the wolves, let’s take back the dialog and welcome all wolf families, but most especially the Shasta Wolf Family, home.


First Wolf Pack in Decades Spotted in Northern California


California Wolf Pack

Now Playing: Teen Pulls Wolf’s Jaws Off His Head With Bare Hands

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California has its first wolf pack since the state’s gray wolf population went extinct in 1924.

State and federal authorities announced Thursday that a remote camera captured photos earlier this month of two adults and five pups in southeastern Siskiyou County.

They were named the Shasta pack for nearby Mount Shasta.

The pack was discovered four years after the famous Oregon wandering wolf OR-7 first reached Northern California.

Karen Kovacs of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said it was an amazing accomplishment for gray wolves to establish themselves in Northern California just 21 years after wolves were reintroduced in the Northern Rockies.

Those wolves eventually migrated into Oregon and Washington before reaching California, where they are protected by federal and state endangered species acts.

Just where these wolves, all black in color, came from will have to wait for DNA testing on scat at an Idaho lab, but it is likely they are a continuation of the increasing numbers of wolves migrating from Oregon’s northeastern corner to the southern Cascade Range, Kovacs said.

Though the wolves have been spotted by local ranchers tending their herds, there have been no reports of wolf attacks on livestock, Kovacs said.

Kirk Wilbur, government affairs director for the California Stockmens Association, said ranchers remain worried about the potential for losing animals to wolves as their numbers increase.

Amaroq Weiss, of the conservation group with Center for Biological Diversity, said she was more worried the wolves could fall victim to hunters as hunting season gets underway.

Anticipating that wolves would migrate into the state, California declared them an endangered species last year, but the state Fish and Wildlife Department does not expect to have a management plan in force until the end of this year, Kovacs said.

The department has no goals for how many wolves might eventually live in California and no idea how many once lived in the state, she added. California’s last known native wolf was killed in 1924 in neighboring Lassen County.

There are at least 5,500 gray wolves in the contiguous 48 states, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Ban the Trap

Action Alerts – Need Your Help Today


July 25, 2015



Dear (Contact First Name),


Social Compassion in Legislation has launched a “Ban The Trap” billboard and social media campaign in support of an upcoming vote by the California Fish & Game Commission.  The vote is on August 5, 2015 and would prohibit bobcat trapping state-wide. And yes, it IS still legal to trap bobcats for their fur in California, most people do not realize that this is the case.


Here are some of the facts:

  • Trappers setup their traps on private property.
  • Trappers stalk the Internet for people posting where bobcats were seen.
  • Trappers get $600-$1000 for their pelts.
  • California has not counted their bobcat population since 1970!
  • Trappers take an estimate of over 14,000 bobcats per year, but really no one knows how many.
  • California bobcats, once trapped, are shot in the head and skinned for their fur which is then sold and sent to China, Russia and Europe, where demand has sadly increased.

When SCIL was alerted that this lifesaving vote was pending, we wanted to make sure your voice can be heard! We hope you will take action.  We do not want to miss this opportunity to make history for our native bobcats. They are Californians too, and are desperately counting on your support.  Please take action TODAY!

Please help bobcats by contacting the Fish & Game Commission before Tuesday, August 4th:

Email  fgc@fgc.ca.gov  Call (916) 653-4899 Fax (916) 653-5040


Twitter:  @CaliforniaDFW @JerryBrownGov #BanTheTrap

Please tell them you Support Option #2 “Complete Ban” on bobcat trapping.  Let’s end this barbaric practice in our state.


*** If you are a member of the press, we will be holding a press conference Monday morning – July 27th.  We will have a special guest and new information.  Please consider covering our press event, and contact me for more information.  We will send out a press release Monday afternoon with our news.

Here is a link to the Proposed Regulations.


We would like to thank our donors and billboard participants:  Diane Warren, Gloria Butler, Dr. Jenn Mann, Alexandra Paul, Matt Raimo, board members: Katie Cleary & Simone Reyes. Also, we want to thank Michael Roud for donating his time and his talented photography services.


Billboard location sites are:

Los Angeles -Santa Monica Blvd. and Kelton facing west.

Sacramento -5 Freeway south Richards Blvd.

URGENT: Help Ban Bobcat Trapping in CA & Set a National Precedent!‏

  TrishCarney-Bobcat-VR 2

In less than a month the California Fish and Game Commission will vote whether to make California the first state in the nation to ban bobcat trapping.

Together we can do this- but we need your help! With a few simple actions you can help end this needless killing.

As Governor Brown recently appointed two new Commissioners (Eric Sklar and Anthony Williams who replaced Michael Sutton and Richard Rogers), it is all the more important that these Commissioners hear from you on this issue- and from your friends, family and colleagues. They need to know how many Californians and visitors to California care about wildlife and don’t want to see bobcats trapped for fur.

In 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the Bobcat Protection Act (AB 1213) into law. Originally intended to ban bobcat trapping statewide, the legislation was then amended and weakened by the pro-trapping industry. Now the Commission is developing rules to implement this Act and thanks to former Commissioner Richard Rogers, the Commission is considering a complete ban on commercial/recreational trapping of bobcats (“Option 2”).

Please join Project Coyote in supporting Commissioner Rogers’ enlightened and compassionate proposal. We have a unique opportunity to protect California’s bobcats from the insatiable international fur market where individual bobcat pelts can sell for more than $1,000 per pelt.

What you can do:

1- Write to the California Fish & Game Commission and express your support for Option 2 which would end the commercial and recreational trapping of bobcats in California (see talking points below):

California Fish and Game Commission
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090

Be sure to include your full contact information in your letter and please cc Project Coyote at info@projectcoyote.org as we are tracking letters submitted to the Commission.

You don’t have to be a California resident to comment. If you reside outside of California, please mention your interest in seeing live bobcats in the wild as a tourist and your willingness to spend money doing so.

2- Join Project Coyote and allies and testify at the upcoming Fish and Game Commission August 5th meeting where this issue will be voted on.

What: California Fish and Game Commission meeting
When: Wednesday, August 5th (agenda to be posted here)
Where: River Lodge Conference Center, 1800 Riverwalk Drive, Fortuna, CA 95540

3- Sign our petition calling on the California Fish & Game Commission to ban the commercial and recreational trapping of bobcats in California.

Join more than 10,000 people who have signed this petition already.

4- CA Residents: Help keep this issue in the public eye by submitting Letters to the Editor to your local paper(s). Use the talking points below and our tips and tools for writing LTE’s.

TALKING POINTS (Please personalize your letter!):

*Express your support for Option 2- the “no bobcat trapping” option.

*The proposed regulatory rules to implement the Bobcat Protection Act would be both complicated and expensive to enforce. A simple ban on bobcat trapping will save the Department money and resources instead of creating a morass of complicated regulations and causing confusion for law enforcement, sportsmen and the public.

*Trapping bobcats is ethically indefensible, ecologically unsound, and economically unjustifiable.

*Trapping bobcats is cruel and unnecessary. Trapped bobcats are generally clubbed and/or suffocated to death (bullets damage the pelt).

*Bobcats are an important native species to California. We should not allow the trapping of our bobcats to feed the growing international fur markets in Asia and Russia where one bobcat pelt can sell upwards of $1,000.

*Fewer than 100 Californians trap bobcats for the fur trade. As stewards and trustees of California’s wildlife, the Commission should not cater to this tiny minority of people who enjoy killing bobcats for fun and profit.

*The value of one live bobcat to the millions who enjoy wildlife watching far outweighs the value of one dead bobcat to one fur trapper.

*As the Commission continues to work toward modernizing predator management statewide, banning commercial and recreational bobcat trapping is a step in this direction.

Thank you for speaking up for wildlife! Watch our video here and be inspired by the voices of youth calling for a ban on bobcat trapping! 


Scientists Warn of Mass Ocean Die-Offs

TV: Scientists warning of mass die-off along California coast — Official: Seafloor littered with dead fish, washing up “as far as I could see” — Toxin has spread all up and down West Coast — Experts: “Very, very unusual… Really extraordinary” (VIDEO)

Published: June 2nd, 2015 at 11:59 pm ET

KSBW, May 29, 2015 (emphasis added): Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary: Mass die-off could happen – “We are beginning with continuing coverage of that algae bloom in the Monterey Bay. Scientists say they’re seeing the highest levels of red tide in more than a decade, and they’re worried it will have grave impacts on marine life… [It] spreads all up and down the West Coast. Researchers in Santa Cruz have already recorded a mass die-off of anchovies and they expected more species could follow.”

KSBW, May 29, 2015: Scientists with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary are predicting a mass die-off on the Central Coast… Up and down the West Coast, a large algal bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia is growing rapidly.

Chris Scholin, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), May 28, 2015: Very Toxic Algal Bloom in Monterey Bay — I wanted to let you know we have been following a very big bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia over the past couple of weeks here in the bay, and the amount of associated domoic acid is really extraordinary… Yesterday I noticed anchovies washing up on the beach in front of MBARI as far as I could see. There’s also lines of fish scales (anchovy?) marking the high tide line… One of the staff went snorkeling off the beach here, and saw the seafloor littered with anchovies… keep an eye out for seizuring sealions, sick birds, maybe sick otters… We think this is a very large event… Don’t eat shellfish or forage fish from MB — very nasty right now!!!

KSBW, May 29, 2015: “New tonight… researchers say a large algae bloom has taken over the Monterey Bay“… Jim Birch, MBARI: “We’re seeing these really high domoic acid levels in both locations, which is very, very unusual“… “Scientists with MBARI say the toxins from the algae bloom are going to have a chain reaction on marine animals, and they’ve already seen more dead seabirds on Central Coast beaches… It has started to really grow in the last few days.

KSBW, May 29, 2015: Raphael Kudela, a researcher at [UCSC] said the bloom… is being found from Washington to Santa Barbara… reports of dead seabirds are already coming in.

Monterey Herald, May 28, 2015: A mysterious neurotoxin… returned with a vengeance… “This is an unusual one,” said Raphael Kudela… “We haven’t seen a bloom this big in 15 years.”… why the toxin periodically blooms in Monterey Bay is still a marine mystery… scientists are getting closer to pinning down the reason for the blooms, with human impacts among the range of possibilities… Domoic acid is also suspected in a recent spate of bird deaths.

UC Santa Cruz, June 2, 2015: The toxin was first detected in early May, and by the end of the month researchers had detected some of the highest concentrations of domoic acid ever observed in Monterey Bay. “It’s a pretty massive bloom. The domoic acid levels are extremely high right now… the event is occurring as far north as Washington state. So it appears this will be one of the most toxic and spatially largest events we’ve had in at least a decade,” said Raphael Kudela, [UCSC] professor of ocean sciences.

MBARI, Jun 1, 2015: Researchers measured some of the highest concentrations of harmful algae and their toxin ever observed in Monterey Bay… During a normal [bloom] 1,000 nanograms per liter would be considered high… [It’s] reached 10 to 30 times this level. On May 27, 2015, very high levels… were found in dead anchovies… The researchers do not know if the anchovies died because of domoic acid poisoning.

Watch: KSBW’s broadcast | San Diego 6 News broadcast

Your Tax Dollars Kill 7,400 Animals a Day‏

The numbers are shocking. Since 1996, Wildlife Services has shot, poisoned, and strangled 27 million native animals; in 2014 alone, Wildlife Services killed close to 3 million animals. That’s 7,400 animals slaughtered every single day across the U.S.— not by hunters or poachers, but by a little known government agency called USDA “Wildlife Services” whose stated mission is “to resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist.” This killing is done largely at the behest of ranchers and agribusiness. The carnage costs U.S. taxpayers more than 100 million dollars each year.

But we are holding this rogue agency accountable! In response to legal pressure from Project Coyote, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and other allies, Mendocino County, CA officials recently agreed to suspend the renewal of the county’s contract with Wildlife Services pending a full review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). For the first time, this agency’s actions will be assessed under CEQA, requiring public disclosure of the full impact of this program on all wildlife- both target and non-target- and on the environment. Furthermore, non-lethal alternatives must be considered.

Representing our coalition, I am en route right now to the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors meeting where I will present nonlethal approaches to coexisting with wildlife. I will speak of our successful model in Marin County – known as the Marin County Livestock and Wildlife Protection Program. It works. Since implementation 15 years ago, livestock losses and costs to the county have decreased; fewer wild species have been killed. Ranchers have embraced the cost-share program that provides guard animals, better fencing and other non-lethal predator deterrents. Joining me is Keli Hendricks, Project Coyote Predator Friendly Ranching Coordinator, who will talk about some of the innovative non-lethal tools and methods we are testing on ranches in Marin and Sonoma County.

Coyote in leghold trap
Mendocino County is re-evaluating its contract with Wildlife Services, the federal government’s wildlife damage control agency. Despite increasing calls for reform, the agency reported killing 61,702 coyotes in 2014.”

Please read this excellent op-ed in the Sac Bee by Lee M. Talbot – Stopping the Slaughter of America’s Native Wildlife, one County at a Time– and help us continue this critical work to stop the killing, reform predator management, and promote coexistence by donating to Project Coyote today. We depend on individual donors to sustain our important work for North America’s wildlife.

donate-button-coyote 2
Because of the generosity of a Project Coyote supporter in Marin County your donation will be matched dollar for dollar up to $12,000. Your donation will go directly toward our campaign to stop the slaughter of North America’s wildlife and to promote non-lethal alternatives to killing. Please help us meet this matching pledge!

250 Native Elk Die Inside Fenced-in Area at Point Reyes National Seashore


For Immediate Release, April 16, 2015

—Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

—Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Contact: Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 499-9185

250 Native Elk Die Inside Fenced-in Area at Point Reyes National Seashore

Despite High Mortality, Park Service Considering Plan to Remove or
Fence Free-roaming Elk at Behest of Ranchers

POINT REYES, Calif.— The National Park Service has acknowledged that that more than 250 tule elk died inside the fenced Pierce Point Elk Preserve at California’s Point Reyes National Seashore from 2012 to 2014, likely due to lack of access to year-round water. While nearly half the elk inside the fenced area died, free-roaming Point Reyes elk herds with access to water increased by nearly a third during the same period.

The news comes as the Park Service considers a ranch management plan to either remove or fence in some of the free-roaming elk herds, while extending park cattle grazing leases for up to 20 years.

“Tule elk need room to roam, and native wildlife in our national park should not be fenced in or prevented from finding water and food,” said Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The loss of nearly half the Pierce Point elk herd highlights how important it is that the Park Service not cave to commercial ranchers who want free-roaming Point Reyes elk fenced in.”

Tule elk are native and endemic to California. There were once 500,000 tule elk in the state but by the late 1800s impacts from cattle ranching and hunting had reduced them to only 28 elk. From one surviving herd, tule elk were reintroduced throughout the state and there are now 4,300 elk in 25 herds. Tule elk were returned to Pierce Point at Point Reyes in 1978, and a free-ranging herd was established in the park in 1998. Point Reyes Seashore is the only national park with tule elk.

The Pierce Point herd declined from 540 elk in fall of 2012 to 286 elk by 2014, a drop of 47 percent. There are no natural year-round fresh water sources on Pierce Point and the elk in the preserve are prevented from migrating by a large, elk-proof fence. During the same drought period, the free-roaming Point Reyes elk herds — which had access to water — increased by 32 percent. The Limantour herd grew from 94 to 120 elk and the Drakes Beach herd increased from 66 to 92 elk.

Cattle ranchers who enjoy heavily subsidized cattle grazing leases on public lands within the national seashore are lobbying the Park Service toremove or fence out the free-roaming elk from ranching areas, because elk are eating grass they believe should be reserved solely for their cattle. The Park Service is considering evicting the free-roaming elk under a planning process initiated for 28,000 acres of leased dairy and beef cattle ranches within the park and Golden Gate National Recreation Area lands in Marin County administered by the national seashore. The Park Service is also proposing extending ranching leases for up to 20 years, and may allow ranchers to expand their operations to animals other than cattle, which would create more conflicts between livestock and native wildlife.

“The reintroduction of elk to the Point Reyes peninsula is a success story for conservation of native species, but the elk are in jeopardy of eviction to benefit a few lease holders,” said Miller. “The Park Service already prioritizes commercial cattle grazing in Point Reyes. Now these subsidized ranchers want to dictate park policies that could eliminate native elk and harm predators and other wildlife.”

There are 13 cows for every elk in the national seashore, with nearly 6,500 dairy and beef cattle and only 498 elk. One-quarter of the national seashore is devoted to commercial cattle operations, with grazing on nearly 18,000 acres under 39 leases. Ten ranching families were paid $19.6 million by the public from 1963 to 1978 for the purchase of ranch lands added to Point Reyes National Seashore. Many of those same families still enjoy heavily subsidized grazing lease rates within the park, paying one-half to one-third the cost they would pay for non-federal grazing land in Marin.

The Park Service is required under its enabling legislation to manage the seashore “without impairment of its natural values” and for “maximum protection, restoration, and preservation of the natural environment.” Restoring native wildlife and ecosystem processes is supposed to be one of the primary missions of the Park Service.

Elk graze on grasses and flowering plants and also browse shrubs and trees. Unlike cattle, elk move around to take advantage of seasonal food sources. Elk can reduce fire danger by browsing brush that is unpalatable to cattle, without impacts to water quality. Extensive studies have documented the negative environmental impacts of overgrazing cattle, including erosion and soil loss, water pollution, degradation of wetland and stream habitats and spread of invasive plants.

Cattle-ranching requires excessive amounts of water — each beef and dairy cow drinks 12 and 35 gallons of water per day, respectively. Accounting for all water use, a typical dairy farm with around 700 cows can use over 3 million gallons of water every day; and every pound of California beef requires about 2,464 gallons of water to produce.

Point Reyes ranchers raise the specter of Johne’s disease as a reason for evicting the Point Reyes elk.Johne’s is a wasting disease of domestic livestock that is spread from confined cattle to wild ruminants such as elk and deer. It is documented that Point Reyes cattle infected the Pierce Point elk herd with the disease. The disease takes 3 to 4 years to produce symptoms. By that time, milk production of most dairy cows peaks and they are removed for slaughter, but infected elk begin to waste away. The Park Service reports that more than 200 recent testing samples show no evidence of the disease in the free-roaming elk. Despite previous high rates of cattle infection in Point Reyes dairies, the Park Service does not require testing or reporting of the disease.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 825,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.