This week’s photograph was made during my most recent group photography trip one evening while heading back to base camp at the end of the day.
Photographing this moose ended up being a disturbing incident. The location of this moose was a very tight spot for the animal. He climbed out of the stream and stood in the road in front of our vehicles, trying to decide which way to go. We were stopped and fairly close to him. I radioed to the other vehicle that this was dangerous for the animal and we stayed patient while he made his mind up on what to do. We didn’t want to frighten him.
Unfortunately, when one stops in the middle of the road, often times other vehicles approach from behind, and like many people driving around in the city or suburbs, their mentality isn’t as conscientious as ours are as wildlife photographers, so they become impatient and reckless.
The moose made the decision to walk past our vehicles along the drivers side. There wasn’t much room for him and he was very nervous. I decided to gently pull my SUV to the right to give him more room. As soon as I moved to the right, the vehicle waiting behind me took that opportunity to peel out and try to pass us, moving directly towards the oncoming moose at high speed along a very narrow opening. He spooked this moose and the animal was jumping around near our vehicles and it finally decided to run up the road in the direction we were traveling. As the van drove past us, the passenger sticks his head out the window, makes a goofy face at us and starts waving his hand around at us with the hook’m horns gesture while he sticks his tongue out. They then drove up on the rear end of the running moose and continued to chase it from only a few feet behind the frightened animal. It was a total act of negligence and disregard for the moose’s safety and the safety of everyone present.
The moose was eventually able to find an open area near the road to get away from the belligerent driver and made it to safety. All of us in the vehicle were furious at this driver, but there was nothing we could do but watch the horrifying spectacle. A short while after this happened, we pulled off the highway to store our gear for the drive back to the cabin. We began discussing the event and everyone in the group was shaken by the incident. One of the ladies, the driver of our front vehicle, commented; “I saw him hanging his head out the widow as he drove by sticking his tongue out and waving his hand around. He looked like he had a prison face.” I commented that the driver of the offending van was a “Dickweed.” So we calmed down and labeled it the “Dickweed and Prison Face” incident. Something we will all remember with disgust.
The problem is, the remote areas of Northern Colorado are filling up with dickweeds and prison face people. Hoards of humanity streaming in and out of the remote locations that just a few years ago, one could visit and not see another human for hours. Streams of “flat-landers” with no concept of how to be respectful of the environment, wildlife and other people around them. It’s disheartening to me. It’s now to the point where I don’t want to be a part of it. I know that everyone has a right to go out and do their thing, but they are bringing their bad driving habits, their ignorance, their road rage and their total lack of regard for the surrounding environment with them. Campers, hikers, fishermen, photographers and sightseers, flooding into previously lightly traveled areas with their dogs and treating the wildlife and environment with total disregard.
I am beginning to lose my faith in humanity. Humans are destroying everything and I no longer want to participate in the mass destruction that is resulting. This is one of the reasons I’ve decided to no longer do group photography trips into the wilderness. I emphasize safety when I take people out. Safety of the animals and the safety of the participants. The bottom line is that things are getting worse and I can no longer insure that safety. I won’t be a party to the madness I’m seeing in the parks and wilderness areas. I’m letting go, if for no other reason, for peace of mind.
So, yeah, I’m through with the madness and will leave it to the tourons walking their dogs and driving like fools. I will leave it to the idiots who are burning down the forests. I will leave it to the people who thrive on destroying the environment. I will leave it to the people who leave their trash scattered everywhere they stay. All I am seeing these days is mindless and morbid ignorance.
I’ve had a good 10 year run taking folks out to photograph the moose but as George Harrison wrote in a song many years ago, “All Things Must Pass.” I can no longer see the beauty, I just see the glorification of destruction.