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Photographer's Note

Elk Buffet.

Moraine Park - Rocky Mountain National Park

Much of this is posted from my previous post .. this is shot about a minute later and a few meters to the right of that image .. the lady in the foreground is presumably the mother of the young lass in the previous shot.

...This was shot out the open car window at a 35mm equivalent of 90 mm. So not some distant telephoto zoom.

It was a blustery Saturday morning with occasional clouds spitting snow .. so the park was pretty empty of people for a weekend.

One of the most common animals in Rocky Mountain National Park is the North American Elk or Wapiti ... The Wapiti are so common that they are almost a certain encounter on any visit to the park. The elk were hunted to near extinction in the area then reintroduced in 1913. By the time of their reintroduction most of their natural predators had also been hunted to extinction and the elk have now almost taken over .. the population in Rocky Mountain National Park ranges from 1,000-3,000 depending on the season.

These are pretty large animals they can range up to 1100 pounds (495 kg) and five feet (1.52 meters) at the shoulder.
http://www.nps.gov/romo/naturescience/elk.htm

Today was not just a certain encounter it was a close one. The elk were everywhere .. I think very pleased that the snow had melted off so they could get at the foliage more easily .. they would rarely look up .. just stand and eat. It seemed around every bend in the road they were closer .. Until I turned onto the small road leading across Moraine park to the Fern Lake trail head. Most of my closest encounters with the Wapiti are in this area .. and they were just hanging out in a massive herd (this is just a bit of it) that extended right up to the side of the small road .. completely unconcerned about Andrew and I.

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Additional Photos by John McLaird (jmcl) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2514 W: 131 N: 4070] (14535)
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