Sunday, September 30, 2012

"Ghosts of the Past"

American Elk - Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

This image represents the many herds of elk that once roamed the mountains and valleys of Rocky Mountain National Park. While elk can still be found in the Park, thanks to the Park’s Elk Management Plan, their numbers are but a ghost of bygone days.

According to a reputable source, well over 1,000 elk have been shot and killed, both inside and outside Park boundaries, pursuant to this Plan. In addition, much of their food source has been fenced off forcing large numbers of elk to leave the Park - also a part of their Management Plan. Unfortunately, it does not end there. The implementation of elk contraception has also reduced the numbers of elk in the park.

A Rocky Mountain National Park brochure printed in August, 1991, reported the following elk numbers, “As many as 4,500 elk in summer may dwindle to 1,500 during winter . . .” A current statement on the Park’s website has this to say,“Concentrations of 3,200 elk in summer may dwindle to 1,000 during winter as elk migrate to lower elevations and move to areas outside the park.” Based on their own count, it’s easy to see that elk numbers are down.

I spoke with a gentleman during the elk rut in 2011, who commented that his little six year old daughter wanted so badly to see some elk, but so far in the two days they had been there had seen none.
 Does Park management not know that millions of visitors come to Rocky each year in anticipation of seeing herds of wild elk? Imagine the affect this will ultimately have on the local economy, which is already not the best.

As a photographer, it is bad enough to find fewer elk when I go into the Park, but now I have to contend with fences in the background.

We must speak out and let Park Service personnel know that we are watching.

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