There are many things I love about summer, one of which is getting out into the sunshine, exploring, and getting close to nature...but not too close.
On a recent visit to Banff, my brother and I pulled into a parking lot for the scenic viewpoint of the Hoodoos on Tunnel Mountain. As we were about to get out of the car, we noticed something in the bushes. We quietly exited the car and carefully made our way to this mysterious shadow. What a treat it was to see this beautiful female elk (aka cow) grazing on the fresh grass and enjoying the view of the valley below. From a safe distance, my brother and I got our cameras out and starting taking photos. Before we knew it, we had about half a dozen outdoor enthusiasts next to us taking photos and sharing the wonderful experience of seeing this beautiful animal.
At this time a car filled with boisterous individuals pulled into the parking lot. It was a family of foreign tourists (a mom, dad and two young preteen boys). The family was thrilled at seeing this elk, and came running up beside me. It turns out I could speak their language, so I understood every word they said. The dad took out his little inexpensive camera and began taking photos of the cow, when he curtly said "I can't get a good shot, so I'm going to get real close for an amazing picture". Before I could say "Stop! Don't do it!! That's a wild animal!!!" the dad briskly walked towards the cow (who at this point was watching him very closely). Suddenly, the cow reared itself, sent its front hooves crashing to the ground, and then charged the man. Fortunately, the startled man kept his footing and ran for his life with the cow in hot pursuit. Luckily, as the elk almost caught up to the man, she abruptly stopped, and just stared at him. Then, the elk returned to where she had been grazing, and continued to enjoy her meal; However, every thirty seconds or so she would shoot her head straight up and stare at the man who foolishly approached her, a stare that said "Don't mess with me buddy...I've got my eyes on you". By this time there were about a dozen awestruck people beside me, but the only person the elk paid any attention to was at the man silly enough to get in her face.
So, moral of the story...enjoy your time outdoors, but respect nature. Give wildlife their space...there's a reason they're called "wild"life. Animals may seem sweet, cute and cuddly, but they are wild and unpredictable. Unfortunately for that family of tourists, this was a lesson they had to learn the hard way. I hope they realize how lucky they were that no one got hurt or killed.
If you're interested, we have a short video of this beautiful animal posted on YouTube.