Point Reyes Accountability: Fire Dave Press, Melanie Gunn & Ketcham from the Park Service

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Point Reyes National Seashore released their 2020 census count of the three herds of Tule elk within the park.  The largest herd, trapped behind an 8-foot fence, plummeted from 445 to 293 individuals.  The two free-roaming herds had no large population swing.  The park service's media release says: “Although the [National Park Service] and [California Department of Fish and Wildlife] believe the elk population declines are drought-related, there is no evidence that the population decline is due to dehydration and a lack of water.”

“This news is completely devastating, and sadly we are not surprised,” said Diana Oppenheim of forELK.org.  “We had seen red flags earlier in the summer during the height of the drought.  We saw irregular behavior of elk, we documented 18 dead elk, and we saw dried up water sources.  After sharing this with Dave Press and Melanie Gunn at the park service, they dismissed the information, spread misinformation, and refused to take any action.”  

The elk are behind a fence to protect 24 private beef and dairy operations within the park.  Nearly thirty percent of the National Seashore is leased to private industry.  That industry has been proven to be disastrous to the ecosystem and has led to severe soil erosion, land scarring, and most recently toxic levels of E. coli in the water ways— 40 times higher levels than levels allowed to protect human health.  The cattle ranchers claim that the grass they lease is meant for their 6,000 cows, not the 587 Tule elk.  

Dave Press is the lead ecologist at Point Reyes National Seashore. 
Melanie Gunn is the outreach coordinator and PR person at the park. 
Brannon Ketcham is the acting Chief of Natural Resource Division

These people have been actively ignoring evidence and information that could have saved this herd of elk.  They have purposefully created greenwashing tactics to hide and confuse relevant information to the public about how they manage the elk population.   It was under their care and guidance that 152 elk died preventable deaths.  We see this as negligence of their duty:  To protect wildlife within the park.    

Dave Press, Melanie Gunn & Brannon Ketcham are not fit to perform their jobs.  

We ask that they be fired immediately. 



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