Bull elk are a majestic site wherever they can be found, with Utah being one such place. No one ever expects to see them casually strolling the front yards of a crowded Salt Lake neighborhood, though.
Residents of the Yalecrest neighborhood have captured the imposing sight this week, with multiple recordings online. But it’s these photos from the Salt Lake City Police Department that illustrate their size best – and just how out of place they are.
“It’s not every day we have elk down in the city but we had some cool and very pretty visitors on Saturday and today, likely due to the fresh salt on the roads,” the dept. posted to their official Twitter Sunday:
“If you see wildlife, do not approach and call 801-799-3000 so we can notify Utah DWR,” they ask of the public. Other sightings continued throughout the weekend into this week, and ample salt on winter roads is certainly a likely culprit.
Cervids like deer, elk and moose seek out salt naturally. Consuming the mineral helps them to recover from harsh winters, and stimulates antler growth, healthy coats and fat reserves. For elk cows, salt is also a vital part of producing viable offspring, then restocking on nutrition given to their calf through lactation.
It’s surprising to see such an enormous bull elk in Salt Lake City, however, let alone two together. According to wildlife reports by the Sate of Utah, The Salt Lake and Summit County portions of state herds “need to continually be monitored due to encroaching housing on critical range and human-wildlife conflicts.” This is exactly what we’re seeing in these photos, too. Not only are these large bulls present inside Sat Lake City, but they’re casually wandering the front yard of a neighborhood!
What to Do if a Bull Elk Approaches You
Whether a bull or a cow, elk are enormous wild animals that are not tame, and remain unpredictable. They’re beautiful, yes, but seeing one in your neighborhood can turn dangerous without a moment’s notice. Children are especially vulnerable.
Abiding by the wildlife safety regulations of our national parks is the best way to stay safe anywhere in America. In the event an elk approaches your direction, Yellowstone National Park recommends that you immediately “Get Away! Retreat to shelter in a building or vehicle, or behind a tall, sturdy barrier as quickly as possible.”
If a mature tree is nearby, this will work. If no shelter is available, then Yellowstone advises running away from the elk. Leaving a territory they are defending will remove you as a threat, and the elk may back down. This is because, unlike predators such as bears and wolves that will pursue you as prey if you flee, herbivores like elk are less inclined to chase. Unless it’s rut season, that is. Then we all must be on our guard, as bull elk can be incredibly aggressive during their mating season.
Stay safe out there, Outsiders! For more on wildlife safety, see our Yellowstone National Park Wildlife: Animals You’ll Spot, Where to Best View Bison, Bears, Elk, Wolves, and Wildlife Safety next.