There are four subspecies of elk (Cervus canadensis) in North America. Three occur in California, of which one is endemic to the state. Yolo Basin Foundation welcomes Joe Hobbs, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Supervisor, on Thursday, Jan. 3, to present “Elk of California – History and Current Overview” at the first Flyway Nights speaker series event of the new year.
Prior to non-indigenous settlement, it is estimated that the elk population in California was more than 500,000 animals. Elk inhabited most parts of central and northern California extending into Oregon. Non-indigenous settlement decimated California’s elk populations, especially tule elk (C. c. nannodes) which inhabited only California. By 1872, only a few tule elk remained in the San Joaquin Valley. With the financial support of hunter tag fees, the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson Act – excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition) the Department of Fish and Wildlife, conservation organizations, and hunters were able to restore elk to the landscape across California. Through the conservation of suitable and connected habitats and active management including translocation, elk populations have rebounded and are now extending their range into previously occupied areas and beyond. Elk population growth since 1970 has been significant and California now supports approximately 5,700 Roosevelt elk (C. c. roosevelti), 1,500 Rocky Mountain elk (C. c. nelsoni) and 5,700 tule elk.
Before coming to the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, Joe Hobbs was the Statewide Elk and Pronghorn Coordinator. During his 18 years with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Joe has worked in the wetlands program, timber harvest review and the private lands management program. He also worked for the Department from 1992 to 1997 in Wildlife Management as a student assistant while going through undergrad and graduate school at California State University, Sacramento. Joe completed his M.S. on the Fall and Winter Distribution and Habitat Use of the Tule Greater White-fronted Goose in the Sacramento Valley, California.
Flyway Nights is a monthly speaker series highlighting environmental issues, natural history of Northern California, and current research topics in conservation. Yolo Basin Foundation hosts Flyway Nights the first Thursday of the month from November to April at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Headquarters, 45211 County Road 32B (Chiles Road).
A $5 donation to support the Foundation’s wetland education programs is suggested. Yolo Basin Foundation members are free. For the complete series schedule and more information, visitwww.yolobasin.org/flywaynights or call Yolo Basin Foundation at 530-757-3780.