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Wildlife refuge celebrates the tule elk
tule elk
The tule elk is one of two subspecies of elk native to California. - photo by Photo by Yathin S. Krishnappa


9:30 a.m. – Guided Elk Tour (Sign-up required)

10:45 a.m. – Speaker Presentation inside the Visitor Center

11:45 a.m. – Nature Walk: Photo Safari

1 p.m. – Speaker Presentation inside the Visitor Center

2 p.m.  – Nature Walk: What is Living in That Tree?

3 p.m. – Guided Elk Tour (Sign-up required)


This year marks the 40th anniversary of the tule elk herd at the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge in Los Banos.  A celebration of this unique subspecies of North American elk found only in California will be held Saturday featuring a series of public events.

The tule elk is one of two subspecies of elk native to California. 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 3,900 tule elk present in 22 herds across California (as of 2012) were derived from this small remnant herd, thanks to his initial efforts.

Participants in the San Luis Wildlife Refuge's Tule Elk Day will be able to observe and learn about the elk through a day of presentations and tours.  There will also be display tables with information and guided nature walks including a “photo-safari,” during which kids can use the camera lens to discover some of nature’s surprises.

This event will provide the unique opportunity for visitors to observe the tule elk herd in their habitat.  Refuge staff will lead participants on tours of the elk enclosure to learn about the rich natural history of the majestic elk.  There will be two tours.  Spots will be limited and available on a sign-up, first-come first-served basis. 

For more information about this event, call the Refuge complex at 826-3508 or go to the San Luis NWR website: The San Luis NWR is located at 7376 S. Wolfsen Rd. off Hwy 165 north of Los Banos.

There is no need to make reservations for the nature walks or speaker presentations.  Participants must bring their own camera for the Photo Safari nature walk (tip: most cell phones have cameras, so no need to bring fancy equipment).  Participants are also encouraged to bring binoculars, field guides, water, hats, mosquito repellant, and sunscreen.