Warning: Graphic Photo

A scene like this usually starts the episode on CSI.

A group of teenage girls cut across the football field on their way to school, laughing and sharing photos on social media.  One looks up, stops and screams.  The others look in the same direction and they also scream.

On the grass lay the gutted and bloody body of an elk.  Cue the theme music.

Okay, that's not what actually happened, but it's for dramatic effect.

Call Sheriff Longmire.

Credit: Gardiner Public Schools, used with permission
Credit: Gardiner Public Schools, used with permission

This wolf kill was discovered on April 12th on the Gardiner Public School's football field.  It was promptly removed to prevent scavenging by other animals.

The predation in the night has been credited to the "8-Mile Pack", the largest in the neighboring Yellowstone National Park, with six adult and fifteen yearling wolves.

All the guts of the cow elk were eaten out, along with the whole sections of meat.  The few scraps of meat remained probably because the sun was coming up.

Montana Talks logo
Get our free mobile app

Gardiner, Montana has an appeal with tourists from the wildlife that freely wander in town.  People are enthralled to see pronghorn antelope, bison and elk walk across the streets and neighbors.  Encounters with predators like bears and wolves are really rare.  But it can happen.  This kill by the 8-Mile Pack is likely the largest number of carnivores to ever come into town.

So on a serious note, this should remind everyone in the state...

Wild Animals are Dangerous.

When obtaining permission to use the gruesome photo, I commented to the nice school lady that luckily the prey in this case was an elk and not a student, football player or cheerleader.  There would be no humor in that.

So please keep a safe distance from the wildlife.  They like their personal space just like Montanans.  A good camera with a lens, binoculars or a spotting scope will give you that breathtaking view from a long way away, and even the smartphone cameras take great pictures from 50+ yards away, that can be cropped into lively portraits.  There is no good reason to get close.

And please, please tell the tourists to not try to pet the fluffy cows.  Thank You.

American Bison standing in Kansas prairie grassland, Maxwell Wildlife Preserve
Credit: CarbonBrain, Getty Images, TSM Media Center

Stunning Wildlife Phots From A North Dakota Photographer

Gallery Credit: Bromo

10 of the Wildest Colorado Wildlife Stories

Take a peek at some of the silliest, strangest, and most bizarre animal tales from Colorado.

Gallery Credit: Kelsey Nistel


More From Montana Talks