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  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Artiodactyla
  • Family: Cervidae
  • Genus: Cervus
There are three species of elk that exist in California: Roosevelt (Cervus canadensis roosevelti), Rocky Mountain (Cervus canadensis nelsoni), and Tule (Cervus canadensis nannodes) elk.

Elk Management Program

The goals of the CDFW Elk Management Program are to maintain healthy elk herds, reestablish elk in suitable historic range, provide public educational and recreational opportunities involving elk, and to alleviate conflicts involving elk on private property.

CDFW personnel have safely captured and relocated more than 1,200 elk since 1975 using a variety of capture techniques, including chemical immobilization of individual elk, hazing groups of elk into winged corral traps, baiting elk in small corral traps, and chemical/physical restraint of animals using a helicopter and dart- or net-gun operation.

The efficacy of a particular capture technique is determined by various factors such as safety, cost, desired age/sex structure of the capture group, and purpose of the capture (e.g., translocation, biological testing, or marking). The statewide tule elk population has increased from three herds totaling 500 elk in 1970, to 22 herds with approximately 5,700 elk today. Such an increase clearly demonstrates that, overall, the Department has effectively captured tule elk, and that the reintroduction program has been a tremendous success.

Estimated elk population numbers in California, 1965-2017.

Wildlife Branch - Game Management
1812 9th Street, Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 445-0411

tule elk


link opens in new tab or windowStatewide Elk Conservation and Management Plan (PDF)

CDFW has completed the first draft of the Statewide Elk Conservation and Management Plan. This document will be available for public review and comment through Monday, Jan. 29 at 5 p.m. Comments received by the deadline will be reviewed by CDFW, and appropriate changes will be incorporated into the final document prior to its anticipated release in early 2018. Comments may be submitted online at or can be mailed to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Wildlife Branch, Attn: Joe Hobbs
1812 Ninth St.
Sacramento, CA 95811

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