Why no elk in San Gabriel Mountains?
Question: Why aren’t there any elk in the San Gabriel Mountains? Has there ever been any discussion of starting a herd there? There is plenty of land, with 970 sq. miles of space. The San Gabriels are home to bighorn sheep, deer, bear and mountain lions. There are also elk in Tehachapi and the Tejon Ranch, which are not too far away. (Brent)
Answer: Elk are not native to the San Gabriel Mountains, likely because the climate and resources there cannot support large-bodied ungulates. The San Gabriel range tends to be both steep and dry — conditions that are better suited for desert bighorn sheep. Historically, tule elk (a subspecies of elk native only to California) ranged from Shasta County in the northern portion of the state down to the Tehachapi Mountains in Southern California, occupying the entire Central Valley from the Sierra Nevada foothills in the east to the coast in the west. Tule elk are uniquely adapted to the Mediterranean climate that the Central Valley and Coastal Mountain ranges provide. The elk population in the Tejon Hills and Tehachapis are the Rocky Mountain subspecies, introduced to Tejon Ranch from Yellowstone National Park in the 1960s. Though it is possible for the Rocky Mountain elk at Tejon to naturally expand into the San Gabriels in the future, man-made barriers like freeways, fencing and agriculture land-use have so far limited that migration. Additionally, climate change may further decrease the suitability of the San Gabriels to support elk in the future, even if elk found their way over.
CDFW currently does not have plans to start any new elk herds. Doing so would be a huge undertaking that would require a feasibility study, extensive public outreach and buy-in, and environmental documents. The good news about California elk is this: our elk populations are robust and we think most of them are stable or increasing in number and distribution.
What about moose – or elk – in the Sierra?
Question: I read the recent column about California’s lone wolverine, which is a very interesting tale. It got me wondering, why aren’t there any moose or elk in the Sierra? I know that there are elk elsewhere in the state, but at some point in history one would think that a herd of moose or elk would have migrated into the area. (Bill)
Answer: Moose evolved in much cooler climates in boreal forests and other subarctic habitats. Generally, habitats and climates in the Sierra and elsewhere in California are not well-suited for moose.
We do occasionally get reports of elk in the Sierra, primarily bull elk. You might be interested in the story of a single Rocky Mountain elk’s solo journey in the northern part of the state. This trailblazing elk traveled 40 miles in six weeks, ending up farther south in the Sierra than had previously been reported. He may have been in search of a mate or new territory.
Historical records don’t really tell us about much elk activity in the Sierra, so they may not have been present there historically. The western slope of the Sierra is close to the historical range of tule elk, but they’re generally a valley species that use flat lands and tules. The eastern Sierra are quite rugged and elk are built more for moving quickly across plains, rather than traversing rough mountainous terrain. However, as elk populations continue to grow, and climate change alters suitability of valley habitats for elk, it is possible we may begin to see elk distributions change. CDFW is beginning a study to assess vulnerability of our elk populations to climate change, which will help us better conserve and manage elk populations throughout California.
Beach fishing with two poles
Question: I do a lot of fishing/crabbing off the beach in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve heard from my fellow anglers that you can have as many poles on the beach as long as you can manage them. Is this true? What’s the rule on how many lines/poles you can have on the beach for one person? (Leslie)
Answer: Generally, an angler can use as many lines as they’d like while fishing in the ocean. However, there are exceptions – one of which definitely applies to your question if you’re fishing inside the Bay. When fishing for finfish in the San Francisco Bay, only one line with no more than three hooks may be used, per California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 14, section 28.65(a). Also, Dungeness crab may not be taken from or possessed if taken from San Francisco Bay (CCR Title 14, section 28.85(a)(1)).
As far as the number of lines an angler can use, the following rules apply statewide: 1) When fishing on a public pier, no more than two rods and lines, two hand lines, or two nets or traps or other fishing appliances may be used to take crabs (CCR Title 14, section 28.65(b)). 2) When fishing for, or in possession of, rockfish, lingcod, greenlings, Pacific halibut, white sturgeon or cabezon, only one line may be used (CCR Title 14, sections 28.65(c), 28.20(d)(1) and 27.90(d)). 3) Only one line may be used when fishing for, or in possession of, salmon north of Point Conception (CCR Title 14, section 28.65(e)).
If you have a question you would like to see answered in the California Outdoors Q and A column, email it to CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.