Letter: Leave wild animals alone

Nov. 19, 2013 @ 11:48 AM

Editor,

I read the article about the elk over at Cataloochee Valley and had to put it down.

I’m so sorry for the elk and most people who like to see animals in the wild. However, I don’t understand why, with all of the signs posted by the NPS, people continue to feel they can feed and walk up and pet wild animals.

A friend and I were riding our motorcycles there last Thursday and watched the elk for a while. We never left the roadway, never tried to feed them and never encroached on their territory.

If you want to pet something, get a dog, a cat, a parrot or some other animal that is normally considered as being tame. If you want to take a picture of a wild animal, buy a camera with a zoom or telephoto lens. Anything else is asking for trouble for the person and the animal. They don’t know that you’re not going to challenge them or hurt them, so stay away. There are seasons when wild animals become very sensitive and dangerous.

I think the NPS should levy a very stiff fine, and I’m not talking about $50 or $100. How about $500 to $1,000? That will make you think a little. There’s no real excuse for being stupid. Just obey the rules and we can all enjoy nature at its best. I hate to see animals put down because of a few people not having the sense to stay away.

I am not referring to the photographer in this discussion. I don’t know exactly how far he was from the elk, but with a telephoto lens I assume he was at a far distance. He did right by not jumping and running but he could have still been trampled to death. The best way to take a picture is by your vehicle. May not be the best vantage point, but at least you can get in quickly.

So my thanks goes out to all of the people that like to feed wild animals. We now have one less elk to see. Keep feeding them and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park will be bare of elk again.

Jackie H. Ward

Seymour