On the Lookout

On the Lookout by Robby Edwards

April 2005
Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

We soon spotted some elk grazing near the tree line in one of the clearings. So we hopped out of our car to watch them for a while. Not long after something spooked them, and they came running away from the woods into the middle of the clearing. We wondered what it might have been that had caused them to get startled like that, and in moments our curiosity was answered when we saw two dogs run into the field chasing the elk and corralling the herd together.

Only a minute or so passed and a park ranger pulled up and parked his vehicle near ours. He was obviously quite upset with the behavior of the dogs. Before he went into the field after the dogs, he walked to the trunk of his car, opened it up and grabbed what appeared to be an (semi-)automatic rifle (It looked like an AR-15, but I could be wrong). He then trudged into the field after the dogs.

The dogs’ owner (or owners) must have seen the ranger, because pretty soon after he appeared the dogs dissappeared. When the ranger returned to his vehicle one of the other people watching this drama with us asked the ranger what the deal was with the rifle. The ranger’s reply was that if the dogs had tags he would cite the owners (the National Park Service requires pets to be on a leash at all times in the park), and if the dog’s had no tags then he would assume they were strays and put them down.

So I learned two valuable lessons from this drama:
1. Keep your pets on a leash, if you don’t want to lose them, and
2. Don’t mess with the park rangers, they have some serious weaponry. ;)