Tule elk have the most restricted range of the three species of elk found in North America and are found only in California. Historically, as many as 500,000 of these animals once inhabited the oak woodlands and oak grasslands of California. But then came the discovery of gold and with it widespread habitat destruction and uncontrolled shooting. By the late 1860's, tule elk had been extirpated from all but a single locality. Fortunately, the remaining animals were protected and eventually re-established in three areas. Hunting for the animals in modern times was first authorized in 1989. Nowadays, approximately 100 tags (33 percent of them for bulls) are awarded by lottery and three are sold at auction each year. The lottery tags are available to residents only while the auction tags in 1998 were sold (one each) by the Mule Deer Foundation, California Deer Association and Rocky Mt. Elk Foundation.
Additional tags are authorized under the California Private Lands Management (PLM) Program and these tags offer to best way for non-residents to take a tule elk. Landowners enrolled in this program pay a fee and agree to take certain steps to enhance wildlife habitat on their property. In return, they are allowed to set hunting seasons and limits in cooperation with the California Department of Fish and Game, plus they are given reduced-price tags for various animals, including tule elk, which they........(continued)