Please Do Not Annoy the Elk

October 6th, 2016 12 Comments

Elk 068 (2) (Small)


Twenty years ago or more, Darleen and I went for a hike in Alberta’s Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton. Its name notwithstanding, it is a refuge more famous for its herds of bison than elk, with warnings everywhere to be wary of the bison and not get too close. In fact, in the parking area there was in those days a graphic photograph of what could happen if one did get too close to a one-ton mass of aggression and attitude, a photograph that inspired a lot of respect.

We chose a trail that went in long loop (roughly eight miles, if memory serves), starting at the parking area and ending at the parking area. At a little over the six mile mark we came to a large marsh where the only way across was a narrow wooden causeway perhaps a hundred yards long. At the far end of the causeway, at the foot of the steps back down to the trail, there was a large bull bison dozing in the sun.

There was the bull. There we were. There we stayed. Our options narrowed down to waiting for him to finish his nap, or turning around and walking back, making our pleasant eight mile jaunt a somewhat more rigorous twelve-mile-plus schlep. We tried waiting, oh boy did we try waiting; we tried yelling at him; we tried positive thinking; we tried prayer, but it was clear this was a bull who had found his place in the sun and planned to get his beauty rest, so after about forty-five minutes we gave up and went back the way we had come.

I was reminded of this a few days ago when we tried to take our dogs to a dog park in a nearby community. It’s a very large fenced and mowed area in an even bigger park where we can let them off-leash to blow off steam in continuous wind sprints without picking up the foxtails in their fur which necessitate a good hour of grooming afterward. It wears them out (a tired dog is a good dog) without wearing us out (a tired dog owner is a grumpy dog owner).

We pulled into the parking area to be greeted by four giant bull elk grazing leisurely in front of the gate into the dog park. One of them, a magnificent eight by seven, was as large as any bull I’ve ever seen. Of course, with running the dogs being the only thing on my mind, I hadn’t brought my camera (that’s an old photograph above), so all we could do was leave the dogs in the car and stand and admire. And that was what we were doing when a woman in spandex and high-tech walking shoes showed up. She had a smart phone and took some pictures of the elk, but she seemed annoyed at having her path blocked, and when Darleen made a comment about the beauty of the bulls, she launched into an exasperated tirade.

Those same elk, those exact four, it appeared, had been on her lawn, on the front lawn of her house, mind you, and had grazed there too, pulling out great chunks of her grass, her expensive front lawn, her manicured and beautifully maintained lawn that she had spent so much money on, damaging it, and when she had told her husband to go out and shoo them away, he had said, he had actually told her to go shoo them off herself! 

She flounced off on her hike in the opposite direction, away from the elk, and I found myself wondering at anyone who could find such beauty a nuisance. I think I would like her husband.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I am reminded of visiting my aunt, who then lived in the Blue Mountains, about an hour west of Sydney (Australia). She had a small, two-storey house in a lovely bush land setting. While I (about 8 years old) played on her balcony, 5 or 6 gorgeous rainbow lorikeets came to perch on the railing and chirped to each other happily. I very slowly snuck inside then dashed downstairs and excitedly told my mother and aunt to come see the “pretty birdies”. My aunt, seeing the birds, waved her arms madly and said, “Those bloody things! They shit all over the woodwork!”

    I’m also reminded the song ‘Big Yellow Taxi’

  2. Anonymous says:

    LOL, shoo them off! I don’t think so.

  3. Anonymous says:

    That did remind me of this TV ad for ring that features a bear.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Such a fun story…thank you for sharing!!

    Nancy G.

  5. Anonymous says:

    That woman’s husband cracked me up! I loved that he told her to do it herself.
    I honestly can’t understand anyone not liking to watch wildlife.
    There is something so beautiful and mesmerizing when I get the rare chance to see any.
    Nancy Darlene

  6. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful photo.

  7. Anonymous says:

    AnnMarie Lupi shared Jameson Parker’s post — feeling Nature has its place – not on my lawn or in my way (LOL).
    6 hrs ·
    Note: “we tried yelling at him” while out on a trail – yet mocked a woman who had an animal wrecking personal property.
    Wouldn’t need a camera if you just brought your phone (the newer ones have camera’s built in!) so you could have taken a photograph any time – even if not professionally done.
    So “so all we could do was leave the dogs in the car” – in the car where even with windows rolled down the heat isn’t good for their health. And on behalf of the dogs I shall say, ‘come on man you promised we can run around, have fun and blow off steam and instead your just going to admire another animal?’
    It was at a park specially for dogs – not bull elk to hang out. There is an entire National Park and then some forest area for them.
    It sounds a little jealous of the “woman” with her modern technology and J.P. is stuck in the past with all the natural means in life. Wonder if his camera is digital or still come out on a film roll.
    Now to not understand the value of money when it gets wasted when others – rather people or nature – destroys it that’s shows how out of touch some struggle yet today.
    Maybe not appreciating big animals like bull elks isn’t the woman’s thing. She’s more of a wolf or regular deer admirer. Or having ones plans change due to an inability not to change the huge beast blocking ones way is her issue. Sort of in life – not being able to change an impossible situation.
    Just because the husband didn’t want to get involve didn’t mean he’s interested in nature – he might just be lazy. (Or super rich and don’t care how many times he has to repair his landscape.)
    Nature has to know their own boundaries – if they want humans to respect their’s.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Love the picture. I don’t understand why anyone would live in an area with such beautiful wildlife and then not appreciate it when it makes a non-threatening appearance?

    How lucky you and Darleen are to witness some of mother nature’s wonders!

    Carla In California

  9. Anonymous says:

    Love the story. Beautiful picture Mr. Parker would youl just take a minute and remember us in Jax.Fla and everyone in harms way of the hurricane thank you

  10. Anonymous says:

    Selfish, overly civilized, urban DOLTS! I am old enough to see the return (in the American Southeast) of Whitetail deer, Canada Geese, Wild Turkey(NOT the liquid kind), booming populations of Raccoon, Red and Gray Foxes, Bobcats, Beaver and OTTER!!! I have watched with fascination(and love) the eastern spread of Coyotes, morphing into the “New Red Wolves”–the Coywolf! And whining, tiresome, overly domesticated people complain and grouse about them all–they’d bitch about the Passenger Pigeons, had they not gone extinct! “Dang birds, pooping all over eveything and breaking off tree limbs roosting! Not to mention blocking out the very sun when they flew over!” Yeah, if it were up to ME, I’d be doin’ the Ghost Dance and rolling up the wasichu world, and bring the buffalo back in numbers! I might ought hurry before the conclusion of the next election……We DO have Elk again, here too. And I think I may live to see the Panthers(Cougars) reestablish themselves–they are CERTAINLY on their way! And I say—YEEHAW!!!!!

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