The article in the Bohemian and Pacific Sun (“Death by Design,” June 30) describes the horror of the mistreatment of the beautiful tule elk herd at the Point Reyes National Seashore. I have seen them many times hiking there, and they are amazing. Starving them, forcing them to die of thirst and sadistically butchering them is just unacceptable. Point Reyes is a public resource owned by the people of the United States, but is being run at our expense for the benefit of a few ranchers. The ranchers are charged rent far below market rate, $7 per head, which probably does not even cover the cost of separating the cattle and elk.
Point Reyes is a very unique place where such a large coastal tract is preserved in an approximate natural state. We need to focus on strengthening the protections of the natural environment there, and not rolling them back.
One curious thing is that the ranchers claim to barely break even, but somehow have enough money to contribute to Rep. Huffman’s campaign to influence him. Could there be outside money involved? If so who is contributing? If not, the ranchers are doing well enough they can do with fewer cattle to make room for the elk and pay more to rent the land from us. Huffman should steer clear of this money—there are interests who strive to erode the protections of our National Parks to build hotels, golf courses and drill for oil. This is not just an attack on Point Reyes, it is part of a privatization attack on our beautiful National Park System.
The agreements that were made 60 years ago were from a different era. Things change, and it’s time to start buying out the ranchers and letting the elk roam free. If the elk overpopulate because there are no predators, then cull the herd. Don’t cull them just to make room for more environmentally destructive cattle so we can produce more milk and burgers.
Dr. John W. Cruz, Sebastopol
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