Spring at Point Reyes National Seashore

It's Spring!

Tule Elk Cow in Mid-April

I was out at Point Reyes a couple of days ago.  Everything is nice and green. It’s been that way for a while, but recent heavy rains will ensure that things stay that way for a while longer.  This cow elk looks to be in good health.  She has shed most of her light gray winter coat and is now mostly showing her darker, reddish summer coat.  I saw one cow which seemed to be suffering from some health problem involving her digestive tract.  I’ve seen other elk with the same apparent problem.  I assume it’s Johne’s disease which causes severe diarrhea, usually (always?) resulting in death.  The disease has been a problem for the Point Reyes elk since the early days of their reintroduction to the Tomales Peninsula.  Virtually all ruminants, including the deer, cattle and goats in the Seashore,  are susceptible to the disease.  Johne’s disease occurs throughout the world.  For more information click here.

Photo of bull tule elk in velvet.

Tule Elk Bull in Velvet

The bulls are sporting new antlers.  This bull is part of the Tomales herd.  The Limantour herd seems to start new antler growth earlier than the Tomales herd.  In fact, it seems to start everything earlier than the Tomales herd.  I’ve heard elk calving has started and I’d bet that it started with the Limantour herd.  Newborn are kept hidden by their mothers for a while after birth, but the early-birth ones should start appearing with their mothers soon if they haven’t already.


About Jim Coda

I am a nature photographer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I specialize in photos of birds, mammals, and landscapes.
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6 Responses to Spring at Point Reyes National Seashore

  1. Kerri says:

    Outstanding captures Jim! I don’t get to see these IRL so always a pleasure to view on a blog 🙂

  2. Charlotte Crackbon says:

    Hi JIm, The antlers really do look like they are made of velvet. Isn’t it amazing all the changes that happen through the year to the Tule Elks coat and antlers, of course you know all about all
    the changes of many animals out there at Point Reyes. I’m learning alot from your notes, hope
    you keep it coming. Thanks Charl

  3. John Wall says:

    There’s always something interesting going on at Pt. Reyes! The bull looks so placid, and its coat has an interesting texture.

    • Jim Coda says:

      Life is pretty good for the elk at Point Reyes. No predators to speak of and no hunting. His coat looks like it has more winter hair than the cow if that’s what you mean John.

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