Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Sad Elk Photo

So...I came upon this elk at the Arnica Burn site between West Thumb and Bridge Bay. This elk had traffic stopped and people were everywhere trying to take photos. I was stopped behind the vehicle in front of me and just snapped this from the steering wheel.

At first, I thought this was a cow elk because the first thing that struck me was the bloody bottom. I thought, "Did she just give birth? Where's her calf?" And then I noticed the huge antlers. Yeah. Not a cow. Why would a bull have a bloody bottom? And guess what? He was limping. Big time. See that hind left upper leg? Poor guy was moving slow. I'm not sure what to make of this picture and I didn't notice any damaged vehicles, but I'm wondering if he was hit by a car and got a bad case of road rash on top of an injured leg. He eventually moved off the road (that was the other thing, seemed more dazed than the elk who play in the middle of the road do) and had a very difficult time getting up the hill with that leg. I'm thinking bear meat.

Sometimes it can't be helped. The animal is just there in the road and you're not breaking any rules. But judging from the people slamming on their brakes behind me (I had my lights on, my hazards were blinking...), folks do not obey the park speed limit. The very fastest you can ever travel on Yellowstone roads is 45 mph. That's it. No more. Too many animals are getting hit by cars. Not because their are too many animals or too many cars, but because the humans who think they are entitled to break the law by driving faster than the posted speed limit hit the animals with their cars.

I could be so wrong. I could be assuming all the wrong things. What other scenario do you think could have played out here?

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