Elk, Deer, and a Cougar

February 3, 2018 at 2:18 pm (California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) (, )

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The area around Fort Hunter Liggett, California is known for its wildlife and scenic beauty. Herds of tule elk live on and near the post, and are often seen along the main public roads.

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I’ve yet to see a bull elk, but these cows posed so nicely for me in the early morning light that they were irresistible.

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Tule elk, Cervus canadensis nannodes, is one of three sub-species of elk found in California. The other two are Roosevelt elk (C. canadensis roosevelti) – a California native found in the eastern forested part of the state, and the Rocky Mountain elk, (C. canadensis nelsoni) – a non-native transplant found in northeastern California.

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The tule elk is only found in California. From the Point Reyes National Seashore website:

“Its numbers were severely reduced in the mid-1800s, primarily due to uncontrolled market hunting and displacement by cattle. By some accounts, fewer than 30 remained in a single herd near Bakersfield in the mid-1870s. A conservation minded cattle rancher named Henry Miller had the foresight to preserve this last isolated group discovered on his ranch in 1874. Until this discovery, tule elk were thought to be extinct. All of the estimated 5,700 tule elk present in 22 herds across California (as of 2016) were derived from this small remnant herd, thanks to his initial efforts.”

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Another place tule elk can be seen is the Tule Elk State Natural Reserve near Bakersfield. The proper pronunciation is “TOO-lee,” and refers to a type of sedge or bulrush found in marshy areas. (There is also “tule fog” in our area as well – a ground fog that tends to occur in the winter and spring.)

An excellent guide to tule elk and locations to see them is here.

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Black-tailed deer are quite common in California, and this young buck at Fort Hunter Liggett in Monterey County was very cooperative with posing in good light for me.

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He was with several does, who grazed with little concern for passing cars. Apparently the noise from live-fire training doesn’t bother these ungulates much. However, there are cougars to keep them in check, and one was seen inside the gated area of post a few weeks ago. From the Fort Hunter Liggett Facebook page:

“A mountain lion (cougar) was seen in the FHL cantonment Jan. 20, and was persuaded to leave by California Department of Fish and Wildlife game warden Matt Gil, and Lt. Donald Saucier, Fort Hunter Liggett Police Department. The 90-100 pound cat was in an area behind DPTMS, a half mile south of Javelin Court in the housing area. (Video by Matt Gil).”

Visitors to Fort Hunter Liggett will find a wealth of beauty and wildlife to appreciate, but they must not venture off the paved roads due to training, which often includes live-fire.

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

Feel free to reblog or share

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com



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