The decision followed a heated 12-hour public meeting in which the National Park Service (NPS), led by new Superintendent Craig Kenkel, used a campaign of strong-arm tactics and mistruths to lobby aggressively on behalf of the ranching industry.
“The NPS shockingly and brazenly stomped on its mandate and aggressively coerced Commissioners into voting to blast wild animals with guns, all to appease private ranchers who are destroying the National Seashore,” Lisa Levinson, Campaign Director for Marin county-based In Defense of Animals, said in a statement sent to WAN. “Scientific data reveals how industrial factory farms are polluting the precious Point Reyes habitat with dangerous fecal bacteria, and the NPS’ actions put both the public and species of special-concern at lethal risk.”
Yesterday’s meeting was ironically held on Earth Day and intended to review a controversial General Management Plan Amendment.The plan, supported by the NPS, will allow ranchers to extend their leases by at least 20 more years and diversify their businesses.
As noted by IDA,in two public surveys, one conducted by the NPS itself, found that over 90%of the public prefers elk and other wildlife over thousands of domesticated cows at Point Reyes.
Despite this, politicians and the NPS continue to downplay the severely harmful effects of ranching despite clear evidence, and ignore the park’s 1962 founding legislation which places “natural resources” above all other considerations. Ranchers were paid for their land, but they were never intended to remain in the park in perpetuity.
Meanwhile, the NPS and ranchers have failed their obligations to monitor water quality. They have not done so since 2013,while thousands of acres of land and numerous waterways are contaminated by waste from over 5,600 cows, which is putting multiple marine species at risk.
In January,In Defense of Animalsand the Western Watersheds Projectcommissioned independent water quality tests that found high levels of fecal coliform in waters draining from ranches, with some showing 40 times the allowable limit for E.coli and 300 timesthe allowable limit for enterococci,which both pose a risk to human health and the health of the environment.
Yesterday’s decision is a death sentence for many more Tule elk and signals the continued privatization, subsidization, and expansion of massively polluting, privately owned, for-profit ranches, and dairies at Point Reyes.
“If we can’t even protect animals and their habitats in the progressive, environmentally-minded San Francisco Bay Area, in the midst of a climate crisis and the sixth mass extinction event, Earth is doomed,” stated Diana Oppenheim, a former docent at the Seashore and Founder of ForELK.
Concerned and outraged citizens are encouraged to attend the next large public demonstration taking place on Saturday, May 1st, from 11:00am to 2:00pm, at thePoint Reyes National Seashore.
The community gathering, which is COVID-safe, peaceful, organized, and effective, aims to send a message to the Department of the Interior that the mismanagement of this national park unit must end.