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THE TOOTHLESS ELKS
With reference to the killing of elk to obtain tusks for sale to members of this order, the facts are that the elk's tooth never was an emblem. Some members did wear them in the early years, however, and this no doubt led to the conclusion in some quarters that slaughter of the elk to supply this market was an important reason for the animal's decline.
When President Theodore Roosevelt stated this belief in a message to Congress on Dec. 2, 1902 recommending legislation to protect game, the Grand Exalted Ruler of the Order of Elks, in a telegram to the President on the same date, said:
"In behalf of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, I thank you for your recommendation to Congress looking to preservation of the elk." In succeeding years, the Order of Elks exerted its influence in support of measures, both federal and state, to protect the elk and to establish and enlarge game reserves. Meanwhile, in 1916 the Grand Lodge had adopted a resolution asking members of the Order to discourage the wearing of elk tusks in order to eliminate any possible incentive from this source for killing elk.
Here in the Owens Valley of California there is a herd of approximately 300 wild tule elk. They are a source of constant irritation to local ranchers, on whose land they compete with cattle for food. To keep them from becoming too numerous, the California Fish and Game Commission issues hunting permits for about 150 of them (by drawing) whenever the herd reaches 400. Such hunts are held every few years.
As an additional measure in reducing the herd the game commission people consider requests from legitimate zoological enterprises that guarantee adequate facilities and continued competent care. Further, the commissioners will transplant surplus animals in a wild state on a new range provided the area furnishes sufficient food and that the elk will not compete with already existing wild or domestic range animals or be a detriment to agricultural interests. To date, the tule elk are still quite a problem: the State of California can't find any takers able or willing to meet the stiff qualifications set by the commissioners in the best interests of conserving a rapidly vanishing species.
HARNESS RACING: THE AMBASSADORS
SKIING: SIERRA DEVOTEE
The Sierra trails will be a welcome sight during the Christmas holidays to the many true devotees of the sport, especially those of us who can temporarily escape the college grind. As a Californian, I can assure the readers that Sierra skiing is the greatest!