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SAN LUIS NWR: Wanna See Tule Elk?Waterfowl? Sand Hill Cranes?
California-Nevada Offices , November 21, 2008
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Tule elk at San Luis NWR near Los Banos, California. A 5-mile auto tour route provides excellent viewing of this California native species. (photo: USFWS)
Tule elk at San Luis NWR near Los Banos, California. A 5-mile auto tour route provides excellent viewing of this California native species. (photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a

Want to see some wildlife? San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex offers visitors a year-round opportunity to see one of California's native species, the tule elk, as well as waterfowl and sandhill cranes.

 

Prior to the mid-1800s, an estimated 500,000 tule elk lived in California.  By the turn of the twentieth century, over-hunting and loss of habitat nearly caused the extinction of this non-migratory elk species found only in California. In 1974 a herd of 18 animals was established in a 780 acre enclosure at the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge near Los Banos, Calif., and the elk have thrived there since. The refuge has a 5-mile Tule Elk Tour Route that takes visitors around an enclosed herd of approximately 50 tule elk. The tour route is open during daylight hours year round.

 

“The cool thing about our elk tour route is that it pretty much guarantees people will see tule elk during their visit to the refuge,” said Jack Sparks, outdoor recreation planner at San Luis NWR.  Best times to view elk are during calving season in April, and the fall (August to October) when the impressive bugling of male elk can be heard for miles around. 

 

There is also a 12-mile waterfowl tour route at the refuge where visitors can see vast numbers of ducks and geese that make the refuge their winter home.  A 2 ¼-mile tour route at the West Bear Creek Unit provides an intimate view of waterfowl, shorebirds, and riparian songbirds. On the nearby Merced National Wildlife Refuge tour route, visitors can view thousands upon thousands of sandhill cranes and Ross’s geese.

 

More information is available by calling the refuge at (209) 826-3508 or on the Internet at http://www.fws.gov/sanluis/default.htm


Contact Info: Scott Flaherty, , Scott_Flaherty@fws.gov



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