Photo: How the tule elk was saved from extinction

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Nature photographer Don Quintana notes that he likes to go to California's San Luis National Wildlife Refuge to check out the tule elk, and on the day he shot this majestic photo, they had a great deal of fog. "We were lucky that several Bull Elk were grazing close by ... Always a pleasure to see these wonderful creatures!"

And lucky that there are even any of these beauties left to see. Endemic to California, the species (Cervus canadensis nannodes) was nearly decimated in the mid-1800s, thanks to hunting and being pushed out by cattle; by some accounts, there were only 30 left by the 1870s. But a rancher-cum-conservationist by the name of Henry Miller had the heart and vision to preserve the last few elk on his ranch in 1874. As the National Park System explains, "all of the estimated 3,900 tule elk present in 22 herds across California (as of 2012) were derived from this small remnant herd, thanks to his initial efforts." Thank you, Henry Miller! And thank you Don Quintana for sharing your beautiful photo with us.

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