Colorado officials have urged tourists not to get close to the wildlife after photos surfaced of a woman holding her child near a large bull elk in Estes Park.
“Every year there’s a case,” said Jason Clay, a spokesperson for Colorado Parks & Wildlife.
People are not encouraged to get near the wildlife, especially a mother and her young child, say wildlife officials.
“These animals can get very agitated if you invade their personal space, and they can charge at you,” Clay said.
This time of the year, the elks are more aggressive due to the rutting season. This means that the animals are more likely to fight with other males over breeding rights with the females.
“I don’t think a lot of people realize just how powerful and fast these animals really are. And if they wanted to, they could get right up on you in a heartbeat before you could get out of the way,” Clay said.
Officials warn everyone that they should keep a reasonable distance between yourself and any of Colorado’s wildlife.
How far should you stay from an animal without getting out your tape measure, however? Clay has some helpful tips.
“You can either put your thumb up, and if you can cover that animal’s whole body, then generally you’re a safe distance. If you put your hand up and look at the elk through a little circle in your hand, and you can see that elk – generally, you’re a safe distance.”
A bull elk is a cousin of the deer, but much larger. Its antlers can reach up to four feet above its head, making the animal roughly nine feet tall. Most bull elk live in the Rocky Mountains. Sometimes, however, the animals are found in the southwest of the United States and the tundra of Canada.
[H/T News 19]