Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pennsylvania Elk: Accident And Rescue

It was shortly after dawn on Thursday, August 20th, as I prepared for a morning of wildlife photography. Before I could leave the house, Bradley Myers and his son Shane arrived and told me a bull was trapped in a swing set at Benezette School.

He had already reported the incident so we drove to the scene, taking great care not to spook the bull and cause him to injure himself.


Brad and his son are excellent photographers and also have blogs. Visit Brad at Bradley Myers Photo Blog for a detailed account of the incident illustrated by excellent photos. Also follow the link to his son's blog where you can see video clips as well as still photos.

Bradley and Shane Myers in action

Also Bob Shank of Bob Shank Photography arrived at some point during the morning and photographed a portion of the proceedings. Visit Bob for more photos of the event and other nature photographs as well.

Since they have covered the incident so well, I will try to post some photographs that depict aspects of the action that they have not covered as of yet, or present a slightly different perspective than they captured.

Soon after we arrived, well known local video producer, Tom Murphy arrived. He caught the attention of a passing Game Commission employee, who immediatelytook charge of the situation, and blocked entrance to the area as a crowd control measure. Now we were "trapped" too, but of course we had no intention of leaving.

Crowd Control Measures

It seemed that the longer the situation continued, the more frantic the bull became. In most cases, he was more frightened by vehicles passing by on Route 555, than he was by the onlookers. Our group remained well away from the animal and used powerful telephoto lenses to document the incident. He would struggle for awhile and then rest for a period. With each successive attempt, he became tangled tighter in the chains and finally he went berserk. The following photos are not sharp due to the violent motion. Note in the first photo that the rack still has the correct placement and spacing between the antlers as the bull is starting to fall back from the peak of a leap,but has not yet put the full weight of his body on the antler. In the second, the antler on the right is now broken and the rack is no longer spaced correctly.



In time Wildlife Conservation Officer Doty McDowell arrived and freed the animal. While it was an interesting morning, I would have much preferred that the incident had not occurred in the first place.


Leedra said...

I really don't know what to say. I would have had very mixed emotions while there just as I do right now. I am sure it was upsetting to watch. Never would have thought about the danger of a swingset to a wild animal. Glad they were able to free him with only antler damage.

bobshank said...

Willard, I enjoyed your blog on the rescue that we witnessed last Thursday. It was wonderful to see Doty and Mark rescue this bull. I count it an honor to be able to photograph these magnificent creatures and we were all relieved when the bull was finally free from those swings. Keep up the great blogging--you certainly know how to spin a yarn!

Brad Myers said...

Willard, I to would have rather photographed other wildlife that day and am just thankful that it ended well. I never made a post as large as I have covering this story and I hope people know I am now glorifying the incident just educating on what can happen when wildlife and man come together. I know we can not expect people to not have swings but as the Conservation officer said maybe they can be put away during the tur at the least.

It was great meeting you and I am sure we will shoot together again sometime.

Willard said...

I agree with you completely, Brad. I would rather it had not happened, but since it did, I would not have wanted to miss documenting it. The incident is highly informative to the public and definitely should be reported and discussed.

The Birdlady said...

Poor guy....How terrified he must have been.

Kerri Farley said...

It saddens me to see this...I am so glad he was freed! He's a beautiful creature and I'm sure he was very scared.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Willard: Those are some neat captures of the action.

Louise said...

I would have had a hard time with this, feeling horrible for the Bull. I'm glad it finally got released, but what an awful ordeal for it.

Dina said...

Your story made such an impression on me that I had to share it with my readers today, in case they had missed your posts.
Anything I could post from here would seem pale in comparison, for Camera Critters day.