WATCH: Unattended Kids Pick Grass To Feed Wild Elk With Nearby Calf at Yellowstone National Park

by Lauren Boisvert

Yellowstone National Park tourists are at it again, and by “it” I mean breaking the rules when it comes to wildlife. In a recent video from the Instagram page Tourons of Yellowstone, a couple of kids were left unattended around a group of grazing elk and a calf. First of all, the kids were digging up the grass, which is a bad look just from landscaping and environmental standards. Second of all, far be it from me to comment on anyone’s parenting, but, seriously, where are their parents? Who leaves their kids alone with wild elk? Do they think the elk are going to babysit?

Who knows what their parents were thinking, but I can tell you it probably wasn’t anything constructive. One of the female elk even has a calf with her. Female elk are extremely protective of their young and will lash out if they feel threatened. They were hanging out near Mammoth Hot Springs, which is a popular spot for elk to give birth in Yellowstone National Park. These kids, and subsequently their parents, took a huge risk hanging around these elk.

How To Stay Safe Around Elk in Yellowstone National Park

We’ve said it before on Outsider and we’ll say it again: the animals in National Parks are still wild. Just because tourists can hike and drive through the parks doesn’t mean the animals are tame. With all the horror stories coming out of the parks lately, I think it’s just a matter of time before we all lose our National Park privileges.

As for elk, the best way to stay safe around them is to be alert, especially during calving season in the spring. Female elk, as mentioned above, are much more aggressive and territorial around their calves, and also like to hide newborns in secluded places. It’s best to be aware at all times, but especially when coming around blind corners, according to the Yellowstone National Park Lodges.

Additionally, visitors should stay 25 yards away from all wildlife. That should be a familiar rule if you’ve read up on your National Park guidelines. It’s generally a bad idea to approach, follow, circle or corner an elk or any other wild animal. If an animal is surrounded, they’re going to find a way to escape no matter what it takes. Even if that means barrelling over your 5-year-old. Again, just because the animals will sometimes come up to your in the park, doesn’t mean they’re tame. They’re possibly just used to seeing people in their environment. But, they still have instincts.

Overall, get educated, and read the guidelines every time you go to a National Park, not just the first time. You never know what might have changed. Stay safe out there, not just for your sake, but for the wildlife as well.