The National Park Service is providing supplemental water for the second year in a row to the Tomales Point Tule Elk Reserve, which is part of Point Reyes National Seashore, a spokesperson for the park service said.

The park service began providing more water to the area in June 2021 for the tule elk due to “unprecedented and extreme drought conditions.”

January through August of this year has proven to be the driest year for the region in 128 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The park service has been providing water tanks and troughs along with mineral licks for the elk throughout Tomales Point until winter rains arrive.

People are asked to respect the needs of the elk and not approach the tanks, troughs or licks while visiting or hiking in the area. Visitors are also warned not to add water to the former cattle stock ponds, as it may disturb and create “dangerous” conditions for tule elk. Diseases borne from cattle manure have been known to cause a wasting illness in the elk.

There are currently about 600 tule elk at Tomales Point and 6,000 throughout the state. The elk only exist in California and they feed on tule sedge. It is said that Sir Francis Drake saw herds of the elk during his 1579 exploration of the region, referring to them as “very large and fat deer.” They are indeed big for deer, but they are actually the smallest subspecies of elk in North America. Conservation efforts have bolstered dwindling herds since the 1970s, when they became a protected species.