When a wildfire broke out in Washington State over the weekend, Kittitas County Fire District #7 was quick to respond. What they may not have known in advance, however, is that their command post would be supervised by a four legged assistant.
Buttons the orphaned elk makes her home on a hillside off of Route 10 where she hangs out with goats and cows. Also nearby is the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, where she stops in from time to time. Despite showing interest in nearby animals, Buttons has doesn’t connect with members of her own species. Instead, she cozies up to humans for companionship.
In a series of photos taken by Kittitas County Fire District spokeswoman Richelle Risdon, the elk can be seen affectionately interacting with a variety of people. She boldly approaches, making physical contact, and apparently even hitting one man up for a taste of his coffee. Gladly accepted are scratches under her chin.
The tale of Buttons began last year when she showed up motherless. She aligned herself with area livestock to form her new family group and looks to have fit in seamlessly. Nearby residents watch out for her, sometimes supplementing her diet with hay in the winter, but Buttons is able to come and go as she pleases.
The display of friendliness on the part of the elk has downfalls as far as the welfare of Buttons once hunting season rolls around. However, by sharing her photos on the KCFD7 Facebook page, it is hopeful word will spread that the elk is tame, so hunters will know to avoid her.
Photos courtesy of Kittitas County Fire District spokeswoman Richelle Risdon