The Tule Elk is the smallest of the North American elk species, the male (bull) elk weighing an average of 450 to 500 pounds (200 to 225 kg), and the female (cow) weighing between 350 to 425 pounds (150 to 200 kg). Tule Elk have a light-beige coat with a dark brown mane surrounding their neck. The rump of the Tule elk is white to a very light tan. The average length of a Tule Elk is 7 feet, and is 4 to 5 feet high at the shoulders. Similar to the Rocky Mountain Elk, a mature male Tule Elk will typically have 6 points on each of the antlers.
The Tule Elk was once known to inhabit most of central California from the east coast to the Sierra Nevada Foothills, but today the Tule Elk are primarily located in the Tule Elk State Reserve in California, which was created in 1932 to protect the once extinct animal. At one point in the Tule Elk’s history, there were 400,000 to 500,000 elk roaming free in most of California. At the low point, there may have been as few as 20 to 30. A farmer/cattleman by the name of Henry Miller was determined to save this majestic animal, which for him started in the 1870’s – 50 years before Tule Elk State Reserve was created for the preservation of this almost extinct animal. The heard in Tule Elk State Reserve population is now 2,500 to 3,000 head of elk. The State of California has also transplanted the Tule Elk into other wildlife reserves where the animal once roamed.
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