Odocoileus hemionus (scientific name)
The sun would be setting in about an hour or two, and even though it was rubbish lighting and would be a lacklustre sunset, I was still looking for wildlife along Maligne Lake road. I had taken one of the side roads and ended up in an area I wasn’t too familiar with at the time, though it appeared it was either a quiet residential area and/or cabin area. It didn’t take much walking to come across some deer. I remember taking a number of frames of this mule deer whilst she ate – at times she did so with such a warped speed, it was rather cool to see.
I didn’t think any of the images were in focus enough to edit – especially ones where she was looking ahead (my direction), so I kept them in a wildlife behaviour collection in Lightroom and left it at that. I decided to revisit the set because I wanted to observe her behaviour again, frame by frame. While the ones which truly showcase her behaviour (eating habits in this case) are in terrible shape, I held onto them for this very reason – observation. To find new clues about mule deer behaviour. To appreciate. To remember. To plan ahead.
In doing so, I noticed this image was in better shape than I remembered, especially in comparison with the rest of the lot, so I decided to upload. Even though she was moulting, this deer was beautiful and graceful. As Mac and I discussed on our most recent episode of Shutter Time, there are no failures in
landscape wildlife photography. Just frustrations. But mostly good memories and experiences I will never regret having.
I’m feeling pretty emotional about wildlife again this week. Terrible news has once again come out of Banff National Park and as I tweeted yesterday – if you want to really experience the joy of being around our wildlife in their habitat – the first step is to respect these animals. There are many resources about wildlife behaviour, biology and co-existing with these wild animals – it’s our job to educate ourselves as much as possible. Understanding the rules is extremely important and easy enough to do. Disrespecting the rules, authorities and these animals ultimately leads to signing the death warrant of a wild animal.
It’s time for authorities and Parks Canada to start holding people/visitors accountable. If you are knowingly putting a wild animal in danger, this to me is wildlife crime and should be treated as such. However, this is not for me to handle, though I really wish it were as I sit here asking myself what the hell is going on in Banff. So what can we do?
The very best thing we can do is to educate others if you’re knowledgable in these areas. If you do not have this knowledge, find someone who does and ask questions and do some research before you enter their turf. It is our responsibility to do what we can do in order to walk away with a wonderful experience in wildlife country – leave with a smile on our face and a wild animal left exactly as they are meant to be – wild. And alive.
Resources to check out:
Banff National Park
- brochures (pdf downloads)
- wildlife information
- visitor safety
- wildlife corridors – information
- wildlife corridors – video
Alberta Environment and Parks: (formerly Alberta ESRD)
- wild species database (note: this a 2015 list)
- 2019 wildlife viewing calendar (tips and times for viewing wildlife)
One of the BEST books I have read about humans + wildlife by Peter Dettling (this man knew exactly what was happening and going to continue to happen in our rocky mountain parks):
Stay safe and please think about the impact you can have on our wild world!
See you in the field!