You would think this large male elk wouldn’t need the sign behind him to warn people to stay away – just look at his rack (couldn’t resist)! This is the largest species of the deer family with elk weighing up to 1300 lbs and their antlers growing up to 4 feet long and weighing over 40 lbs themselves. That is certainly not something I want charging at me.
Yet the hapless national park rangers yell themselves hoarse every day at stupid (refraining from using vulgarity here) tourists who insist on walking up *thisclose* to these enormous, powerful and potentially dangerous wild animals. I’m sure you have seen this YouTube clip of a smaller deer who justly got his revenge on a hunter:
Elks are much more powerful and the testosterone levels in the males are on red alert as they guard their female harems. The elk above was kept quite busy warning off idiotic tourists while herding its females to safer areas:
The close proximity between humans and elk was actually hard to avoid as an entire herd of elk see the grounds of the Yellowstone National Park Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel as a great grazing site. We had to be constantly on the lookout as we walked from our cabins as elk were everywhere. Still, by staying respectful and adhering to the rules – we got some great looks – even sitting on our porch:
That male elk was always on alert and even if we were a significant distance away he would send out a warning by “bugling”:
Or just staring us down:
Or just giving us raspberries:
We also saw elk in the “wild” as we hiked through Yellowstone’s geyser basins. Being in the wooded area it took a bit of searching to find them as the elk smartly stay away from the sulphurous geysers and springs – but it was well worth the effort once we spied the females and babies:
A smaller but very handsome member of the deer family makes the Grand Canyon its home. The mule deer must work very hard at scavenging for food as the GC landscape is desert with little vegetation. Walking along the South rim, we came along this family – and hunt for food overcame any fear there might have had for humans as they meandered quite near us. In fact, we often had to stop walking to give these beautiful animals some additional space. They were quite thin – I hope they are able to forage enough to sustain them through the brutal Canyon winter:
There were also smaller animals that crossed my path in the national parks and I would like to give them the spotlight for a moment, particularly because a couple of photos are part of my “get close to face my fears” collection:
Wasp – enormous but obviously deceased – it was fascinating to watch the smaller insects work towards moving its corpse:
Cute widdle bunny wabbit:
Cuter widdler Chickaree or Douglas squirrel:
Fast moving chipmunk:
These last two are quite special as they both posed for my camera. The first is a gorgeous bi-colored eyed Bernese Mountain Dog visiting the parks with his humans:
Lastly is a fellow that was so cuddly that I decided to take him home with me:
Don’t get animal activist on me – this Snowy Owl was a puppet with moveable wings and a head that swivels 360 degrees. How could I not bring him home?
CHASING DREAMS will be on hiatus next week – Happy Holidays to all !