I went for a drive along the old Highway 1A between Canmore and Cochrane in Alberta the other day. This is one of those very rare “can’t miss” locations where you are bound to see some big animals. I have seen many Coyotes, Deer, and Bighorn Sheep along this highway, and Elk are also common. When you see a sign warning about Bighorn Sheep on the highway ahead, you better be prepared to slow down. Not only are you very likely to see some of them, but they are also very likely to literally be on the highway.
I saw several very large herds in a short 5 km stretch near Exshaw, and in total I saw at least 200 of these beautiful animals. While most of them were grazing, a few were simply wandering around or lying on the ground. I saw an unusually large number of juveniles, including a few that were very young. Here are a few of the images I made.
One of my favorite places to look for birds and animals is right in the city (Calgary) near my home. Carburn Park is a man-made city park on the banks of the Bow River. Although it was developed to be very accessible to everyone, including a paved path all the way around the park, it also has large stretches of naturalized areas and has become home to thousands of birds and animals. It is a very beautiful park and it is a fantastic place to go birding in all seasons.
Although not as common as the deer that can always be found in the park, I have recently seen Coyotes several times. I had seen this animal earlier in the evening while it sauntered across the frozen lake. There were people walking all around the park and it really did nothing to avoid them. I eventually found it again a little further back in the woods.
The park is home to very large herd of White-tailed Deer. There were quite a few deer wandering around in the woods while I looked for the coyote, and they were very skittish when the coyote passed close by. They are very used to people and completely ignored me however.
I have seen the Deer in the park many times before, and I knew that the resident herd was quite large, but I really had no idea just how many live there were until I saw people feeding them just before sunset. A man whistled a couple of times and then dozens of deer came running from all over the park. They were obviously accustomed to being summoned for a free meal.
I don’t understand why these people think it is necessary to feed wild animals. I really doubt that they understand the danger they are putting these deer in. There were at least two coyotes skulking around in the park that night and I’m sure they would love to take advantage of some fat, grain-fed deer that weren’t paying attention to anything other than the easy meal in front of them.
The bigger question is what the deer will do when these people stop feeding them, as eventually they will. The animals have clearly become habituated to having their meals delivered to them, and they have completely lost their fear of people. If it gets so bad that they come to depend on the people to provide their food, then what will happen to them when the food wagon stops rolling in?
I love going to Carburn Park and I’m always excited to see the birds and animals that live there, but knowing what I know now about these deer, I am terribly conflicted about photographing them… I’d love to here what other people think about this issue?
There are lots of large animals that are easily found in the Rocky Mountains (and the foothills). One of the most beautiful, and one of my personal favorites, is the Bighorn Sheep. These animals are usually very easy to find in the same places over and over again, and so I’ve been able to observe them many times.
I recently took a drive west of Calgary along a route that I had never taken before. In two different places along the highway (near Exshaw) I saw large herds of sheep shortly after passing warning signs for sheep in the area. It’s funny how often you can see warning signs for animals but then never actually see any of animals. That is definitely not the case with Bighorn Sheep!
Although there was one memorable time when I was gently reminded by a rather large sheep that they really are wild animals, they are generally very passive and aren’t very concerned by human interaction. These two herds almost completely ignored me and they barely bothered to glance up while continuing to eat their morning meal.
As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve been seeing huge herds of deer lately. Not only are the herds large, but there are also lots of them. Deer are generally pretty skittish; they often take off running as soon as you even start to slow your vehicle down, and if you actually stop the car they are gone! Not lately though. I guess its a bit of herd mentality kicking in because it seems that as long as there are more than about 10 deer together, they don’t seem to mind posing for a few pictures before slowly wandering away.
Yesterday I was able to stop my truck and enjoy a few quiet minutes with two different large herds of at least 30 animals.
This large buck watched me for a little while, but he never bothered to walk away, even when the rest of his family left.
Continue reading More Deer