“I suggest taking a couple of deep breaths, putting your head down and going like hell.”

Many happy returns. I’m opening my blog for the first time this year to find an old story has come back to life. Very nearly two years ago I posted a picture sent to me by my cousin Beryl in Vancouver. To my surprise the image of elk apparently crossing the Trans-Canada Highway generated a debate between people I had never met about whether the photo was a fake or real. Weirder still: people are picking up the story again.

Thanks to Tommy I have the fancy updated version of WordPress which shows what people are reading on my website.  (I know, very self-indulgent but fascinating).  The elk began to flicker across the screen before Christmas.  A quick Google turned up my old story along with a link to a site  selling jokey road signs warning drivers to look out for stray elk, moose, or any other unfortunate wildlife on the road.

Over New Year the elk returned in force. Now Google shows the jokey road signs have disappeared and it looks to me as if it could be that picture of elk on the bridge that is causing the interest. (The picture Beryl sent me crops up on at least one other website I have found ).

So is it true or false? To my mind the argument was clinched by Dave Poulton, who sent a link to a video about safe crossings for elk and other animals dicing with death on the  Trans Canada Highway which cuts through Banff National Park, in the Canadian Rockies. At the end of his comment, almost in passing, he adds.

BTW, the photo of the elk on the Canadian Pacific Railway bridge (beside, but not on the highway) is generally accepted to be real in these parts where it was taken.

At that time Dave was executive director of CPAWS ( Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society).  If you have a few minutes to spare watch Shooting the Gap, the video CPAWS produced to show how wildlife can regain access to the wild without impeding the ceaseless flow of traffic on the highway.  It is hard to decide which is  more wonderful: the intelligence of animals in working out how to use an ingenious range of safe crossing places; or the efforts of humans in designing them.

Footnote: I see Dave Poulton left CPAWS last year. I hope he has found a good new job, he sounds like a robust and passionate environmentalist. Here is  his advice to his successor: “I suggest taking a couple of deep breaths, putting your head down and going like hell.” The elk would probably agree.


And just for the record: here’s another picture from Beryl of a baby moose born in a housing estate somewhere in Alaska. Unless of course anyone knows any different…