WATCH: Bull Elk Charges Into Crowd of Yellowstone National Park Tourists, Gores Man

by Lauren Boisvert

What’s the number one rule when visiting Yellowstone National Park? Say it with me: do not approach the elk. Or the moose. Or the bison, or the bears, or the wolves. National Park safety rules state that you should stay 100 yards away from bears and 25 yards away from all other wildlife. In a throwback video from the Instagram page Tourons of Yellowstone, a group of tourists most definitely did not stay 25 yards back from two elk.

“Who remembers this classic?!” the Instagram page captioned the video. They’ve posted it before, and with elk rut season almost upon us (September to mid-October), it’s a good reminder to stay away from rutting elk.

The video shows two bull elk preparing to lock antlers in a masculine display. Around the edges of the video, not too far from the spectacle, a group of tourists gathered to watch. The elk lower their heads like they’re preparing to fight, but at the last second move away from each other. One bull turns towards the crowd, trotting in their direction. He crosses the road, approaching the gathered masses.

The elk appears to shake his antlers at the crowd, and then charges, knocking a man over onto the ground. A similar incident happened to a man who was knocked over a fence by a bison a while back. The crowd disperses, as they do when they know they’ve been caught doing something they shouldn’t. The elk, for his part, seems to give everyone the side-eye before trotting away.

When visiting Yellowstone or any other National Park, don’t be like these people. Read the rules, plan accordingly, and remember that these are free-roaming, unpredictable, wild animals. Consider this your public service announcement.

Understanding Elk Rutting Season, and Why It’s Important to Leave the Elk Alone

Elk rutting season is creeping up on us. It occurs usually from September to mid-October, and it’s truly an interesting and remarkable time to witness the elk in all their glory. But, this is also the time when they are at their most aggressive. The bulls battle it out in order to win a female’s attention. They also become increasingly territorial and will charge if anyone gets too close, be it fellow elk or human.

Last year, Yellowstone National Park put out a statement warning tourists of rutting season. This time of year is when everyone wants to see an elk. They want to capture the moment when two bulls lock antlers, and they get too close as a result. In anticipation of this happening, Yellowstone stated in a news release, “Bull elk can be unpredictable and dangerous during this time. Stay alert. People have been severely injured by elk. Elk run quickly and may change direction without warning.”

Even with last year’s busy 2021 season, there were many fewer animal attacks and wildlife-related injuries in the fall than there were at the beginning of summer 2022. Three people were gored by bison just in June this year. In fall 2021, the only incident reported in nine months was when a hiker encountered a bear while on Beaver Ponds Trail.