Motorists driving underneath a railway overpass in Canada’s Banff National Park were witness to a gruesome scene as a wolf pack feasted on an elk earlier this month. Professional photographer Christopher Martin was one of the several drivers that stopped to watch—at a distance—as the wolf pack dragged down an elk near the railway.
“The elk took a couple of paces, doubled back and then repeated that a couple of times. It seemed unusual behaviour so I trained my telephoto lens on her to have a better look. When I did, I couldn’t make out anything unusual—until a wolf’s head came into view when it leaped up and bit the elk’s neck!” Martin wrote on his blog. “At that point, part of me was in amazement but the more important part got to work. I ran up the small hill beside the bridge to get level with the animals. As I did, I could see four wolves (although the pack has five members; I just don’t have one photograph with more than four but all five were likely there) surrounding the elk. I did not see what led to the elk being on the bridge but suspect it was herded there by the wolves.”
You can see several of Martin’s photos below:
This gives a whole new meaning to "hungry like a wolf."Christopher Martin Photography captured these incredible photos of a wolf pack taking down an elk near Banff, Alta.More photos here: http://huff.to/1OvS92H
Posted by The Huffington Post Canada on Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Martin told the CBC that the pack attacked in waves, with one or two of the animals moving in for an attack and then retreating. One of the larger wolves, which Martin suspected to be the leader of the pack, was able to bring down the elk a few times by biting its neck. By the third time the elk hit the ground, it never got up again. The entire encounter only took 20 minutes.
“It really struck me how smart the wolves are, to hem it in on the bridge and take away a bunch of escape options. One wolf would distract from the front and others would bite from the back, crippling the elk’s legs,” the photographer told Rocky Mountain Outlook.
Wildlife officials have not identified the wolf pack, but noted that it was active in the area. In the end, officials determined that the pack and the elk carcass were a hazard to oncoming trains, and removed the carcass from the overpass.
“We’re keeping a close eye on them, and at this point they haven’t shown any indication of being food conditioned or behaving aggressively toward humans,” said Steve Michel, wildlife conflict specialist for Banff National Park.
Several wolf packs exist in the park, including the Bow Valley pack and the all-gray Fairholme pack. For the most part, wolves in the park are elusive and rarely seen by visitors, although officials say wolves are considered a threat to caribou. Elk on the other hand, are at a healthy number.