humans and wildlife

There’s no doubt that wildlife attracts human spectators.  Sometimes we seem to love the wildlife encounter a little too much, placing ourselves (and the animals) in danger by getting too close.

failure to read the sign

Like this guy, who just couldn’t get close enough with his smart phone to get a good photo of this buffalo’s eye. Yeah, he got yelled at by a ranger, but he could just as easily have been flattened by Mr. Bison.  Photo by Debbie Reynolds, who was shocked that anyone could be this stupid.

For the most part, the animals at Yellowstone National Park, however, seem to ignore the humans and go on about their normal lives in the midst of huge long lines of traffic that clog the narrow roads.

bighorn-sheep crossing a busy road in Yellowstone

Cars slowed down, but didn’t stop for this female Bighorn Sheep crossing the road.

bighorn-sheep-Yellowstone National Park

The bighorn sheep don’t seem to be too stressed out to continue eating along side a busy road.

However, I suspect quite a few sheep, pronghorn antelope, and elk may get hit by cars with all the traffic they encounter daily. To combat this problem of high roadkill deaths of Pronghorn, Wyoming has installed a few wildlife corridors over busy highways where these antelope migrate between Yellowstone and southern Wyoming (read about migratory antelope here).

elk-gardiner-montana-

I’m not sure what the elk find so alluring about “downtown” Gardiner, Montana, but they lay around on the grassy lawns near the visitor center and wander through backyards of local residents without a seeming care in the world.

It’s certainly more exciting to find and photograph wildlife in their natural settings, free of artificial structures, and that’s a challenge with so many visitors to national parks all seeking that same experience.

pronghorn-antelope-

Unless you go out at times of day or in conditions that most people avoid, like a snow storm.

bull elk

Or in the evening when the light is just about gone. This bull elk had a harem of females he was protecting, and he’s massive compared to the town elk above.  Look at that neck!

elk-herd

Get along there ladies, get away from those pesky human photographers.