Angry bull elk gives Careless Colorado tourist an instant wildlife safety lesson

Elk at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA
(Image credit: Getty)

A woman received a rude lesson in wildlife safety at Estes Park recently, when she wandered too close to a bull elk during rutting season. The visitor tried to sneak past the animal, which was clearly agitated, and rammed a bearproof trash can that she tried to shelter behind.

A video of the incident, which you can watch below, was shared online by local residents Colorado Wildlife and Adventure Videos. It shows the woman approaching within a couple of feet of the bull, which can be heard grunting as it tries to force her back.

Estes Park is a pretty town that often serves as a base for people visiting nearby Rocky Mountain National Park, but is also a tourist destination in its own right, largely thanks to its huge population of elk. They can be seen wandering throughout the town, and the local police force often has to gently guide them out of shops, but they are still wild animals and can be dangerous if they feel threatened.

Several people have been attacked by elk at Estes Park over the years after getting too close. In 2019, a woman was knocked down by a charging bull elk and a man fell and hit his head while fleeing. In 2012, a woman was trampled by a cow elk after accidentally getting too close to her calf, and spent several days being treated in hospital.

Give them room – use your zoom

This is just one of several close calls involving elk that have been caught on camera recently. Just last week, a man was escorted away from a parking lot at Yellowstone after using an elk call to antagonize a pair of bulls, and a group of tourists were seen wading into a lake to get a closer look at a herd during the rut.

Local tourism site Visit Estes Park warns visitors to stay at least 75ft (23 meters) from elk at all times – and to take particular care during the animals' rutting season in the fall. An elk might seem calm at first, but its demeanor can quickly change.

"Always keep a safe distance, especially from the males (bulls), which can be aggressive as they defend their females (cows) from other bulls at this time of year," says the tourism office. "Give them room – use your zoom!"

For more tips, see our guide how to enjoy elk rutting season safely.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.