The Bison of Elk Island National Park
This national park, located 45 minutes east of the city of Edmonton, Alberta is Canada’s first wildlife sanctuary and the only fully fenced-in park Elk island manages conservation recovery herds for plains and wood bison which are sent from here to nature reserves and other parks all around the world.
When I went here yesterday I was lucky to see quite a few, some along the road, and some in pastures and others in the bison loop a loop where you can drive through and stop in pull-off areas.
The ones pictured here are plains Bison, Wood Bison are on the south side of the highway. Most ponds and lakes are starting to open and I found the crows, Canada geese, hawks, beaver, muskrats. The elk are usually found in the back trails, although can be seen from the main road early in the morning. The bison are best seen in the morning or at dusk but today they were everywhere and can be seen while hiking on the various trails.
This is a cow in the bison loop.
this cow and her two older calves were either running from the presence of my car or catching up to the herd.
I often see these three bulls on the road, alone, called the grumpy old men because they will chase cars , so I give them lots of respect and a wide berth.
One of the old guys taking off.
young bull with his winter coat
If you have ever seen them break into a full gallop , they are fast and can go from 0-30 km within seconds. They can rip a grill off the front of a car or side off a trailer so don’t fence them in when you stop at the side of the road. I have seen families with very young children get out of their cars and stand in a group only ten feet away taking photos. I stay in my car, unless I am on the trails hiking and use my long lens. I take a couple of photos , then leave.
So come and see them, and enjoy them and the birds and other creatures on the trails, on the waters. You can camp here for the day or stay a few days. The parks are for the animals and the people to enjoy. It is exciting to see these wild animals, just watch your enthusiasm and keep a safe distance.
Wait until the next post to see the beaver that I saw.It was a stroke of luck.
Getting Along With Coyotes
A woman’s dog was attacked by a pack of reportedly 7-9 coyotes in the river valley in Edmonton last week. It survived and so did she after being rescued by police after going down a 20 foot embankment when the coyotes chased her smallest dog down the hill and onto the thin ice. She managed to chase the coyotes away but refrained from going onto the thin ice. She had a cell phone with her and called the police. Police responded as did Fish and Wildlife and park staff who rescued her because she couldn’t get back up the embankment and the dog. She was not hurt apparently, and the dog was taken to the emergency vet but no further news.Must have been scary, she certainly has my sympathy as does her dog.
I have run into a coyotes at another dog park myself a few years ago but just one that I was aware of. I called the dog I was with to me, then we both left the path.The coyote came through the trees on an adjacent path into the open. I yelled out to the other dog owners and a man picked up a big stick and chased the coyote away. In the past I have seen them in different parts of the city, usually at night and from a car. I hear them howling across the river often in the past couple of years. My most recent sighting was at dusk when I saw one last winter skulking through the trees near the bird feeders at the park.
I was listening to the news about this incident and heard from a wildlife officer that we have about 600 coyotes living in our river valley. There are trails that I have walked on that have signs notifying you of the fact there are coyotes in the area and to keep your dog close. But the dog-owners don’t always take heed.They let their dogs loose all over the park whether they are on off-leash trails or not. I am sure that that woman thought it wouldn’t happen to her, either. Be forewarned.
I think we can co-exist here, in fact we have been doing so for dozens of years. I want them to stay wild and have a little fear of us and I want people, especially children, and pets to be safe.
Some of the advice from the city is to keep your dogs on a leash in areas where coyotes are known to roam, do not let them run off alone. Do not approach coyotes but show that you are bigger than them by carrying a big stick, or yelling, then slowly detouring.Do not run. Do not leave food and water from your pets outside and clean up fallen fruit from trees as well as keep your garbage containers sealed. Coyotes will be attracted to the food and lose their fear of people. And don’t let your pet play with one. Often there is a pack a short distance away and the playful one will lure your dog to the pack where they will attack.
The best way to get along with coyotes is to be respectful and enjoy them from a distance. It is better for all of us that way.