“Get out of the way!” Sarah screamed as she shoved me from the path of the charging elk.
The elk had really come for me while I was busy trying to prevent the female from going to the road because of the gridlock they would cause, which is common to this mating season when the male controls a portion of the female and the little ones, he would move them to another place away from the herds where he would mate with them.
“What was that?” I asked in disbelief.
“He must have thought you were taking his females away from him,” Sarah said with little smile spread on her face. “Come to think of it, he has about seven females following just him, and he cannot still spare you one.” It was obvious Stella was trying to make fun of the situation
“This is not funny Stella, and you just saved my life. I could have ended up in the emergency ward,” I said.
“I am sorry Chris, but what do you want me to say? I have never seen an elk fight a human before.”
This behavior I must say it was really rare in elks. They are known to fear humans, in as much the human did not push them to where they do not have any other choice than to fight back to defend themselves, but these in the park seemed to have gotten so used to people to the level that they did not fear humans anymore. Although not all of them, the females were still following my gestures before the male charged.
There were not very many of them since the poaching carried out by our ancestors in the 70s almost got rid of every last of them, so we could distinguish each one of them that we were just trying to restore to the park. There were about eight males in the herd and over fifty ready to mate the females. We called the male that charged me big alpha. Big alpha had shown a trait that got us so perplexed. Only if I knew that was a hint to what was coming in the future, I would have started to take precautions around the herd. I had escaped by Sarah’s being alert to the danger and by a fraction of her push.
I saw the ‘do not dare’ sign all written on big alpha’s face, so I let them go this time, causing motorists to wait as they paraded on the road till they got tired and moved to the side of the road. I knew they would be back to their sleeping spots when the sun sets, so I had not much to worry about chasing them about. I decided to call what had happened earlier that day the mating heat, with so much belief that it would not happen again as the mating enters the second day and on.
The second day it was not Big alpha that charged at a human but a more subtle male, Long Tail, that charged at a tourist who was trying to photograph it. What could have galvanized these animals to start behaving this way we do not know, but we could only explain that they have no fear for humans again.
The photographer held his camera and was trying to move away from the spot the elk had come to meet him, but the elk kept following and taunting the man with a camera with its horns. Then it got really brutal, carrying the man inches up with his camera still held in his hands.
Probably the other elks had thought Long Tail was having all the fun and decided to join to play with what they used to fear. People had gathered at this time watching and trying to help us get the man away from the elks, but the elks kept turning on us and charging the nearest person that came close to them.
Sarah had gone too close to help the man with the camera and like what happened the previous day did not pay attention to another elk charging towards.
“Watch out!” I screamed, but it was too late.
I rushed to her where she was lying unconscious. The elk had given her terrible knock to the side of her rib. At this time the elks had blocked them, and lots of motorists had parked watching in dismay the wreck the elks were causing.
“Somebody call the ambulance!” I screamed feeling scared.
Two guys came from behind the crowd dressed up and carrying paintball guns in their hands. I guess they had just arrived the scene and seeing what happening thought they could give a hand was.
“Hey man,” one of them said as they approached me. “We think maybe we could give you a hand in controlling your animals.”
“These are all we’ve got, and I think it should do in scaring them,” the other man said, showing me the paintball gun in his hand.
I told them the paintball would do as a real gun would not be allowed to be used on an animal that was on the list. The objective was to scare them to back off from the road and back to the pasture. The other man produced another gun for me, and we went to work. At this time an ambulance had arrived and taken Stella to the hospital. The paintball worked. We were able to drive the elks away from the road, back to the pasture and rescued the man with camera unscathed.
One other thing needed to be taken care of and that was these animals’ disrespect for humans, which was because they do not fear us again. For this, we needed to instill that fear back into them, lest they would cause more havoc in the future. The paintball gun had worked well to scare them back to the pasture, so we decided to equip ourselves with the paintball gun to control and instill fear into them.
We started to shoot the paintball at them whenever they made a move to the road, and this blast of paint and the little ball pain scared them a lot.