As summer draws to a close, wildlife across North America are preparing for the fall and winter months. For elk, this means rutting season.
In late summer/early fall, bull elk gather groups of females in harems for mating. During this time, they become extra aggressive, as only the strongest, toughest males are able to attract and keep a harem of females.
Because harems aren’t easy to build, and males will often spar over potential mates, bulls are extremely protective of the females they do attract. While elk are typically mild-mannered animals, sparring, fighting, and aggressive displays of dominance aren’t uncommon during the rut.
So when a Jasper National Park bull was attempting to help his harem cross a road in Jasper National Park, he wasn’t afraid to put that dominance on display toward human passersby. With a group of cows (females) nearby, the bull made sure that the cars knew he was the biggest, baddest elk in the park.
Just as he would with another bull elk, the male showed off the size of his body and antlers to the drivers. He bugled into the air, made bluff charges at the strange metallic creatures, raised his head high, and punched the ground with his hooves.
Disappointingly, yet not unexpectedly, people left their cars for a close-up shot of the agitated bull.
Do not do this. An average bull elk weighs 700 pounds and can run 35 mph. They can and will gore a person to death when threatened. And nothing enrages a bull elk more than something or someone getting between him and his harem, which these people, however unintentionally, were clearly doing.
Bull Elk Charges Oblivious Tourist in Estes Park
Though an unbelievable sight to behold for nature enthusiasts, tourists throwing caution to the wind in the presence of wildlife isn’t at all uncommon. Just last year, in fact, a man was thrown to the ground head first by a charging bull elk in Estes Park, Colorado.
The National Parks Service recommends maintaining at least 50 yards between yourself and the local elk. If an elk happens to wander too close, it’s your responsibility to reestablish the appropriate distance.
With that in mind, keeping a close eye on your surroundings is paramount when exploring any area in which wildlife, such as elk, are present.
Well, one Estes Park tourist couldn’t have been paying less attention in the presence of an angry elk. Another visitor even attempted to alert him to the approaching bull. Rather than changing course, however, he kept moving toward the animal and soon found himself flying backward over a low concrete wall.
“[The] person thought it would be wise to walk right in front of one of the male elks,” the astonished park visitor recalled. “This person also didn’t listen to my commands to watch out.”
“[They] seemed fine, thankfully,” he continued. “But the message here is to respect the space of wildlife and to use common sense.”