Massive Elephant Seals Took Over a California Beach During the Government Shutdown and Nobody Can Get Them to Move
The government shutdown may be over (for now), but the work to restore some of America’s sacred outdoor spaces has just begun. For places such as Joshua Tree, facing that process is daunting due to litter and other damage caused by humans, but one beach in California is experiencing a different kind of side effect.
During the shutdown, government workers were put on furlough and were no longer required to attend to Drake Beach, a stretch of sand in Northern California that is part of the National Park System's Point Reyes National Seashore. Because it was left abandoned, nobody was there to monitor the local wildlife, which includes a few gigantic elephant seals. So, the seals decided to reclaim their land and snuggle up on the shore. And now, nobody can get them to leave.
"I've not seen anything like this here with these numbers," John Dell'Osso of the National Park Service told KPIX, a local CNN affiliate. "An occasional rogue elephant seal yes, but nothing like this."
According to Dell’Osso, the seals not only came ashore during the shutdown, but they actually had enough time to birth a few babies. And those babies will need to stay put for quite some time.
"Now we have some 35 to 40 pups that have been born on the beach and will be nursing from their mothers for the next couple of months," he said. "I just want to caution the public to be patient with us, as we're trying to work our way through this."
Had the shutdown not occurred, Dell’Osso explained to Motherboard that his team would have likely attempted to move the seals away from the parking area.
“This would be done by a standard practice of using tarps and waving them at the seals to the point where they turn around and go further down the beach,” Dell’Osso said.
Because of the influx of animals, the National Park Service closed the visitor’s center parking area, along with the road leading to it. This, Dell’Osso said, was out of an abundance of caution to ensure no problems between humans and wildlife would ensue.
For now, parks officials have called in experts to learn more about dealing with the large population influx, KPIX reported. More details about reopening the area are expected this weekend.