Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Wapiti and the Sandwich

This is an elk. It probably doesn't want a sandwich.

We took a drive the other day from Rocky south to Banff and then up the Jasper-Banff Parkway to Highway 11 and home. It was a long day, but a good one.
We hardly saw any wildlife. In fact this elk was the only big wild critter we saw. He browsed along the side of the highway and let himself be photographed. Elk are good that way.

It reminded me of the time my mom and sister and I went out to BC with an aunt and uncle. It was Easter and snowy and gray. Somewhere along the highway between Banff and the BC border we stopped to view some elk by the side of the road.
This was more than 40 years ago, before anyone heard about not feeding the wildlife, so we did. They came right up to the van window and poked their noses in.
Whether it was my idea or someone suggested it I've long forgotten, but I offered it a salmon sandwich. It was not a hit. I'll spare you the description.
If I recall correctly they liked the beans.

Today I shudder to think how we regarded wildlife in those days. The last thing we need to do is get them used to humans. It leads to all kinds of trouble on both sides.
Fortunately we've learned and most people are sensible enough to obey the law and let the wildlife fend for themselves.

For as wrong as it was, I can't say I regret it. It's another life experience and because of it I can say without hesitation that elk don't eat salmon sandwiches.


the Bag Lady said...

Well, that's good to know! Perhaps if we surround our haystacks with dead fish in the winter, the elk will leave our cattle feed supply alone! :)

Leah J. Utas said...

dfBag Lady, ya never know what'll work.

Lois Karlin said...

I remember the elk in Jasper, and I miss them and miss access to that beautiful place. I don't feed the wildlife directly, but that doesn't mean they don't live off what they get from me. I live in a still more or less rural area with at least half of the farms gone to houses, many built on five acre lots. Sprawl. There are too many deer in too little woodland. They eat our vegetables and flowers and shrubs. I don't blame them. And I don't mind sharing. I do wish they'd leave some for me.

Leah J. Utas said...

Lois, thanks for stopping by. I am sure the elk miss you too.

Our house is on the edge of town and we frequently have deer wandering through the yard. They browsed the bark off an elderberry bush and had a bit of most everything else. We also have had a recent visitor who left us a little something by the front steps. We don't know what it is, but suspect coyote.
I love the wild things, but I wish they wouldn't treat our yard like a buffet.

Reb said...

Oh, I remember the days when we didn't know any better. In our case, it was sis and I feeding a goat a peach. We even have a photo. Very glad we know better now.

Leah J. Utas said...

Reb, that sounds like a great photo. I suspect the goat liked it.

Thomma Lyn said...

Beautiful picture of the elk. Wise words about not feeding wildlife.

And a salmon sandwich -- hehe! That sounds scrumptious.

Leah J. Utas said...

Thanks, Thomma Lyn. I'm glad we've outgrown the notion that we should make wildlife beholden to us for food.

Barbara Martin said...

Leah, I recall when my family fed wildlife, and it was in the 50 years ago category. The bighorn sheep and elk really liked cinnamon buns with icing. My Dad, wise person for the time, said NO to feeding bears as he had hunted them in the Peace River country. He was good about making the rest of us keep the campsite clean, though Banff was notarious with garbage bears in the 50s. Especially one huge cinnamon male. They would meander through the campsite on Tunnel Mountain looking for goodies people left in their tents. When people were upset about it they soon found they were no match for a 'pushy' bear. The black bears would congregate at the side of the old highway 1 (now known as 1A) in a group just past the Vermilion Lakes or near the turn off to Johnston Canyon and wait for cars to stop and the occupants to throw food out to them. It was as if they knew the park wardens would take a long time to come and chase the tourists away.

The 50s and early 60s were days when feeding wildlife was just done despite the warning phamplets from ParksCanada (though they didn't really come out until the 60s). Then 'accidents' started occurring and bears were tranquilized and shipped into the wilderness with some returning to old habits. That was when the fines became hefty for feeding wildlife.

Hilary said...

I'll bet they like salmon just fine. It's that mayo that got to them.. ;)

Great photo of a beautiful creature. :)

Leah J. Utas said...

Picky critters, aren't they?
Thanks, Hilary.

Leah J. Utas said...

Barbara, cinnamon buns? Well, can't hardly blame 'em.
Your dad was smart to put his foot down on the bear feeding.
I don't think I knew about the no feeding warnings back them. I don't remember, though.
That's interesting about the garbage bears. Thanks.

Clare2e said...

Consider it noted, for the next time I have an elk picnic. I know they don't need me to host them at all, but perhaps just the odd birthday and retirement party?

Leah J. Utas said...

LOL, Clare2e. It's always good to know what to serve.