Saturday, September 5, 2009

Elk Resuce-HD Video of incident at Benezette Aug. 20,2009

Elk rescue, magic words that draw a lot of attention, How often does one hear about an elk needing rescued from a hazardous situation?

Regular readers have followed the incident at the old school in Benezette, Pennsylvania quite closely. I have spent a significant portion of the last week editing an extremely short film of the incident.

If you have problems playing the video read the instructions in the latter part of the post before giving up. One of the best work-arounds is to turn the HD off. The quality is still quite good for web video.

Pennsylvania Elk Rescue from Willard C. Hill on Vimeo.
For an even better viewing experience Click Here. It will take you to Vimeo where you can view the video in a larger player.

For those who are technically minded, I filmed the incident with a Canon Xl-H1 with normal lens. Editing was done with Sony Vegas 9.0b.

This is my first attempt at compressing high definition video for the web. Video enthusiasts will notice some compression artifacts where the video fades from the title page into the opening scene.

To prevent "stuttering" or hang-ups on playback, it is best to allow the video to buffer before playing. It may help on a slow computer to turn off HD(look at right side of video player, hover the mouse over the play bar, or you may need to hit play, and you should see three boxes appear in the right side of the player: share, embed, and HD. Click once to turn HD on, and once to turn it off. It should be on by default on your first visit).

I hope to incorporate more video in future posts is this works out well,as I actually do more work with video than with stills, but hesitate to post clips because of quality problems.

At any rate, this should wrap up the series on The Elk Rescue unless I learn further information about the fate of the bull.

Camera Critters: Outlook For Injured Bull

During several recent posts, we have dealt extensively with the elk that was tangled in the swings at the old Benezette school. As a result, the supporting structure for the right antler, known as the pedicel, was broken loose from the skull. Many have speculated what this will mean for the animal in the future.

How Will This Affect Future Antler Development?

Similar problems have occurred in the past, and one in particular stands out. I did not keep records on this incident so I do not recall the manner in which the animal featured today was injured, but he also ended up with a broken pedicel and the antler had to be removed. This was sometime in the late 1990s or early 2000s. The local elk watchers named him "Clubhorn".

This was before the days of DSLRS and while I do have a few still photos of the animal from this period, it would require research to locate the negatives and they need to be scanned to digital files before they can be posted.

Suffice it to say that for several years, this particular animal had a completely normal right antler, but the left one was very deformed and small. To everyone's amazement he showed up as a large mature bull in 2004. While the rack was still not balanced looking it was very impressive.

I photographed and videotaped him extensively in 2005. He looked almost normal if he stood at the correct angle. There is a story about him in a recent issue of Pennsylvania Game News, where a tourist relates how he approached him too closely to photograph him. The bull knocked him down, and the tourist required medical attention. although he was not seriously injured. The following photographs were taken the following week and the bull is only a short distance from where that incident occurred.

Clubhorn: 2005

Clubhorn: 2005-Side View Shows Deformity

He was featured on the cover of the Pennsylvania Game Commission Hunting Digest that year, but unfortunately was shot by poachers either later that year or in early 2006.

For detailed reporting on the recent incident, visit Bradley Myers Photo Blog, and Bob Shank Photography.

Also congratulations to Bob Shank for having his photos published by Endeavor News and in a Pennsylvania Game Commission News Release.

For more Camera Critters photographs, Click Here!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

PGC Cautions Elk Watchers As Peak Viewing Season Nears

6x6 Bull On Skyline: 2007 PGC Calendar- courtesy W.Hill

*Important Note: This post will display reasonably well in Firefox, but will not be formatted correctly in internet explorer 8. This is due to an issue with HTML from the PGC news release at the end. Try clicking the first box to the right of the address bar which makes the browser more compatible with posts that are not aligned correctly, etc. The post seems to display O.K. in IE7.

The mating season for Pennsylvania elk, or the rut as it is also known is now underway. It begins in late August and continues until sometime in October. Activity is greatly influenced by the weather,with action being more intense during cool spells, and decreasing during hot periods.

Each year thousands of tourists visit the elk range.  Most of these visitors will converge on Winslow Hill, which is near the village of Benezette and is the center of the traditional elk range.
Benezett Store

Gilbert Viewing Area-Fall 2007: W.Hill

All are hoping to see a large elk like Bull#36, also known as Fred Jr. He has most likely been the most photographed bull in Pennsylvania for the past several years.

Fred At Gilbert Viewing Area 2006: W.Hill
With this in mind, The Pennsylvania Game Commission released a newsletter today dealing with elk watching, and the "elk rescue", which we bloggers have also reported,
The following is an excerpt from that release:

Release #091-09

With Commonwealth’s elk viewing season fast approaching, Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe is offering some guidance on where to go, as well as encouraging those planning to travel to “elk country” to be respectful of local residents.

“With a little guidance anyone can easily see elk this September and October, especially between Labor Day and Halloween, because the mating season, or the ‘rut,’ is on,” Roe said.  “Also, as winter approaches, elk are consequently on the move. So, you don’t need to be an expert in elk biology or be intimately familiar with the region’s topography or roads to find them. Folks just need some help with where-to-go and what-to-do information when they get to this rugged, big country.

“If you do travel to Elk, Cameron, Clearfield and Clinton counties to view this majestic animal, we encourage you to be mindful of local residents and the property. Since elk viewing is better in some areas than others, it stands to reason that the largest numbers of wildlife watchers will be in those areas with the best viewing opportunities. However, wherever people congregate along narrow rural roads, the potential for problems increases, especially when motorists and wildlife viewers on the road’s shoulder pay more attention to elk than oncoming traffic. Be safe. Be considerate. Be the one who knows he or she is doing everything right.”

For the full details of the story, visit the PGC website.

Also,The Game Commission has posted A HD Video produced by the agency on its website, which offers elk viewing tips and a sample of what visitors to the elk range can expect to see. To view this clip, click Here!