Friday, September 21, 2007

At The Mammoth Hot Springs Visitor Center- Yellowstone

Here is another group of savvy elk. The irrigated lawns around the visitor center at one of the lower elevations in the park provide very nutritious food long after the other grasses have dried up and pulled nutrients back into their roots. The lawns have been in existence at this visitor center since the early 1900’s when they were planted by the Army. Soldiers were the first park rangers when Yellowstone was established, and this area was known as Fort Yellowstone. The soil is high in silica and was so irritating to the lungs of the soldiers, grass was planted to relieve the lung problems. While the elk that feed on the grasses go into the winter in better shape than other herds, all of the visitors in the area cause a nightmare for the park rangers. The bull elk is very protective of his herd and can attack people who get in between him and the females. One year a bull took out the back windows of five different parked cars. I guess he couldn’t understand why the elk in the window would not back down when he went through all the aggressive postures. Finally he attacked it and it went away, only to reappear in the next car’s window….and so on.
There are signs such as this one up all over, and a whole crew of rangers who try and keep people away from the bull elk especially. However some people just ignore the signs.

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