In Estes Park CO The Elk Are Celebrities

Photo by Cathleen Shaffer

Photo by Cathleen Shaffer

(The elk mating season in September and October brings bugling and sometimes sparring elk and of course, curious onlookers)

There is a traffic jam in front of my house again. People hanging out of car windows with cameras, standing in the driveway, the bolder few trying to cross the fence into our yard. Some even approaching my front porch. It is the elk paparazzi.

I step out of the house, cup of coffee in hand as a gentle reminder that this is my home, my yard and my private sanctuary. Most don’t take the cue. However, since this is a tourist area I don’t want to be rude. I know their motivation is pure curiosity and of course, getting the best up-close and personal shot of the elk for their Estes Park vacation photos.

I live in the Colorado Mountains along a highway that is the gateway into Rocky Mountain National Park and the town of Estes Park. My backyard is the Big Thompson River, a great water source for many species of wildlife. I have seen everything in my backyard from a mother bear and her cubs to a mountain lion. And yes, I am still in awe of what I get to see but also respectful and mindful of their habitat. I figure, they were here first.

The four elk in the yard, casually eating my buffalo grass have become regulars. So used to the sight of me, they barely look my way as I walk to the back of the house, out of the line of sight of the elk paparazzi.

“Please don’t feed the elk that Oreo cookie”

While elk are a common sight to those that live in Estes Park Colorado , they are unique to many people, thus the crowd. I am compelled to occasionally intervene when someone tries to cross our fence or lead children close for a picture.

Elk are wild animals, I explain to one family that is just too close for comfort. They look docile enough when relaxing but believe me when provoked or scared they will charge you, I add. And please, don’t feed them that Oreo cookie, they are vegetarians. People often try to entice the elk with whatever snacks they happen to have on hand, not a wise decision and totally illegal in Colorado.

Most people move on in due time to another location hosting the elk. For the stragglers who have worn out their welcome, we turn on a very far-reaching sprinkler system and we water the grass. We fashioned it out of an old fire hose and a generator. It’s really loud, spews forth a really heavy shower and very effective for dispersing crowds. And it’s definitely our laugh of the day.



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