Nature photographer says people need to be mindful of Elk in Lone Elk Park

VALLEY PARK, MO - You might call Kent Burgess a big game hunter.  Only he doesn't use a gun, but instead a high-powered telephoto lens.

‘There`s just something magical about gazing into the eyes of a wild creature,’ says Kent Burgess, nature photographer.

Sunday, Burgess was at Lone Elk County Park when he saw a group of four hikers approach a herd of elk.

“My experience was just looking at it from a distance,” says Burgess.  “They took some photos and then they headed towards the herd and I was just like, `What are they doing?”

Signs at Lone Elk County Park warn visitors to not approach the elk, especially right now during their mating season.

“The herd is corralled by the bull elk,” says Joel Monk, Senior Park Ranger St. Louis County Parks.  “He watches over the herd during mating season and if you approach at that time he takes that as an offense to him and he will separate you from that area.”

That`s exactly what happened, as the hikers were possibly trying to take an elk selfie, one person was injured by a charging elk.

“Turning a back on a wild animal to get a selfie, there`s just too many videos on YouTube of people ending up in really bad situations,” says Burgess.

“As we always try to explain to people If you`re going to leave the area, don`t turn your back on them,” says Monk.  “You turn your back on them and that`s an opportunity for them to attack.”

For Burgess, the social media shaming of the hikers that`s followed is something unproductive.

“My intentions were just about a public service announcement about being safe and the dangers and how wonderful being out in nature can be,” says Burgess.

Especially when you keep a 100-foot distance, during mating season.