Watch as a massive herd of elk a hundred-strong pours down out of Estes Park as the Krueger Rock Fire grows in acreage.
The footage may be from a far-away vantage point, but it’s as dramatic as it sounds. As the Krueger Rock Fire burns southeast of Estes Park in Colorado, thousands of animals are fleeing in peril. Residents, too, are beginning to evacuate as the blaze shows potential for severe growth. But it’s this enormous elk herd that has our eyes popping.
Courtesy of Eric Harrington, a resident of Estes Park, we see the elk herd making a break for it. A solid hundred of the majestic cervids rush away as the flames rage near Mary’s Lake. As herding animals often will, the elk all keep a straight line, following their herd’s leaders out of danger. The elk create a large dark line across the autumn prairie; smoke rising from the forest they leave behind.
“Seeing a herd of Elk running from the smoke/fire here in Estes Park at Mary’s Lake,” Harrington captions his home footage, which you can see above.
Thankfully, the fire is currently outside residential areas and no structural damage has been reported. The open nature of Estes Park means most wildlife should be able to escape in similar fashion to the elk as well.
As for the Kreuger Rock Fire, Colorado’s investigation into the blaze has revealed recent high winds as the culprit. Gusts blew a tree onto a nearby powerline, Larimer County Sheriff’s Office’s press release states, which would “arc and start the fire.”
According to the precinct, the fire has consumed at least 133 acres as of Thursday, Nov. 18. Currently, it is 15% contained.
Elk Escape: How Instinct Fuels Survival
While many Outsider’s instinct is to feel the great loss of more outdoors and wildlife to wildfire, it’s important to remember that nature is far better equipped to deal with natural disasters than society.
As this herd of elk shows, natural instincts are what drives an animal’s survival. There is no sticking around to preserve a homestead or planting roots in a dangerous place over-sentimentality. Instead, there’s only one thought: survive.
Wildlife will do just about anything to live and thrive, too. Take this rattlesnake attacking a full-grown great horned owl, for example. North America’s largest owl isn’t typical prey for a rattler of any species (it’s usually the other way around). But desperate times call for desperate measures.
In kind, these Colorado elk are doing exactly what nature hardwires animals to do. Wapiti have thrived on this land far, far longer than civilization and man itself, even. Millions upon millions of generations of elk have fled wildfires, imprinting the most successful ways to do so in their very DNA to be passed down through the generations.
This is what nature is all about. And elk are an absolutely fascinating example of nature in her prime.