Too Many or Too Few Elk

September 22

And they found rich, good pasture, and the land was broad, quiet, and peaceful. - 1 Chronicles 4:40 NKJV

years, beginning in 1849, however, prospectors killed so many of these small elk for meat and hides that by 1873 only one small herd remained. Then the government de­clared killing the animals illegal. There were not enough elk anymore.

Conservationists attempted to reestablish the tule elk in several locations in California, with the most successful herd in Owens Valley. Most of Owens Valley belongs to local and fed­eral agencies, all of which made it a policy to lease the land to ranchers for growing cattle feed. The elk easily adapted to their new diet of desert plants. In fact. they adjusted so well that the large herds are now a problem for the ranchers. The elk can live on desert plants. but they much prefer the cultivated alfalfa, and they break down fences to spend the night grazing in the ranchers’ fields. So now there are too many elk.

In order to appease the ranchers, while providing a home for the elk, the U S. Congress has limited the herd in Owens Valley to 490. Concerned preservationists think that is not enough elk. They would like to see 2,000 tule elk in California before declaring that the survival of the species is sure. So Congress also ordered the U.S. Department of the Interior to move extra elk from Owens Valley to other suitable spots in the state until they reach the goal of 2.000 animals. (Since the time of this writing, the elk population has grown significantly. So much so that the California Department of Fish and Game has tried to control the population of elk by limiting herd size to 30-35 individuals. Today, there are approximately 5,700 tule elk throughout California.)

Our world was perfectly created, with every­thing in balance. Sin tipped the scales, but only temporarily In the new earth all creatures will again live in harmony and peace-and in per­fect balance once again. There will be just the right number of everything.

Nature Quest – James & Priscilla Tucker