A man received a sudden lesson in wildlife safety at Jasper National Park after trying to take photos of a bull elk at uncomfortably close range. In a video shared by infamous Instagram account TouronsOfNationalParks this week, the park visitor can be seen approaching the animal, phone in hand, and refusing to back up even when it lowers its head and makes several bluff charges.
The video has begun recirculating this week thanks to the account, which highlights bad behavior at sites of natural beauty around the world, such as people poking moose, taking their children onto wet rocks near waterfalls, and performing stunts on canyon rims. This particular clip was probably shot during the fall, when bull elk are at their most spectacular, but also their most defensive.
A photo posted by on
Parks Canada warns anyone visiting Jasper to be particularly careful in May and June, when cow elk are fiercely protective of their calves, and September and October when bulls' hormones are running high.
"During rutting season, bull elk will attack anything that comes too close to them or their mates," the organization explains. "You are in danger if a bull elk appears agitated, has his antlers lowered towards you, and is pawing the ground or thrashing bushes. Charging is another obvious danger sign."
Attacks on humans are rare, but they do happen. In August 2018, a woman was taken to hospital after being knocked down by an elk at Jasper. Her injuries were not life-threatening, but the elk was euthanized for public safety.
"Though they might not appear threatening, elk can be aggressive and attack without warning," said Jasper National Park spokesperson Steve Young after the incident. "During the fall mating season from now through mid-October, male elk are particularly belligerent. Herds of elk are common in and around Jasper as they use the townsite to escape from natural predators on the landscape."
If you're planning to visit Jasper in the coming weeks, Parks Canada advises staying at least 30 meters away from elk at all times, and specifically warns against parking between males and females in case a bull rams your car. For more advice, take a look at our guide how to enjoy elk rutting season safely.
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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.