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Cervus canadensis ssp. nannodes
The tule elk (Cervus canadensis ssp. nannodes) is a subspecies of elk found only in California, ranging from the grasslands and marshlands of the Central Valley to the grassy hills on the coast. The subspecies name derives from the tule that it feeds on, which grows in the marshlands. It is the smallest subspecies of all American elks, with the average weight of adult males only 450 to 550 pounds (200 to 250 kg). The females average 375 to 425 pounds (170 to 193 kg). The calves are similar to deer fawns, with brown coat and white spots. When the Europeans first arrived, an estimated 500,000 tule elk roamed these regions. But by 1895, habitat loss and hunting had reduced the elk population to only 28. Conservation measures were taken to protect the species in the 1970s. Today the wild population exceeds 4,000. Tule elk can reliably be found in Carrizo Plain National Monument, Point Reyes National Seashore, and portions of the Owens Valley from Lone Pine to Bishop.