It’s been over nine thousand times that I have stepped out for a lovely mountain walk, during which I’ve had the privilege to see, and had the occasional encounter with wildlife, usually not life-threatening but certainly heart pounding.
There are a large number of animals living within the same district as I do, Elk, coyotes, fox, wolverines, cougars, bears (grizzly and black), wolves, and probably some others I have yet to remember.
Elk have crossed my path literally and frequently, generally, the thing to do is to walk around them, making sure to circumvent them from an angel that does not go between them and the rest of the herd, because in my experience however afraid they are, they will risk going in your direction to get back to the herd, so it’s best not to be between them.
There are Elk that hang out in very large and small groups (usually young males), and the occasional solo elk, generally nothing happens we give each other a wide birth & go our separate ways.
However there was an elk that was different, my dog and I walked by carefully, as usual, she trots off in a different direction, then has a change of heart. Her big brown eyes firmly fixed on my dog, turns around after having walked away, and heads back up the path towards us. My dog is not paying much attention to this, he is a happy guy delighted to be on a walk. The Elk continues to approach and stops within social distancing parameters, and stands there staring at the dog. My big brown sunglasses where roughly the same size as the elk’s eyes, and maybe that helped, for until I let out a loud kiai, I had been largely unnoticed, then as a result of the kiai the elk looks up at me shocked, and turns so hastily to retreat that she lost her footing on the wet tarmac, slipped fell with a crash on her left hip while negotiating turning around, (poor thing).
My conclusion for this behavior, without doing any research is, my dog could have looked like a coyote she had met before, this coyote I guess was memorably mean to the elk and she was in no mood to put up with it again and decided to stand up for herself.
Perhaps there is another hypothetical …..