Tourist tries to get close-up photos of elk – and soon regrets it

Pair of bull elk in Banff, Canada
(Image credit: Getty)

One particularly careless visitor has been spotted strolling right up to a grazing bull elk at Jasper National Park to take a photo, demonstrating the worst possible way to capture the animal in its natural environment. Despite the bull making several bluff charges to force him back, the man only retreated a few steps before returning to get as many snaps as possible, putting both himself and the animal in danger.

The video (from Kendra Neef) was recorded a few years ago, but has recently resurfaced on social media thanks to Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone, which highlights thoughtless behavior at National Parks around the world.

Elk attacks are rare, but they do happen. In 2018, two woman was seriously injured by a cow elk defending her calf at Yellowstone National Park, and in 2019 two people were injured after being charged by a bull elk at Estes Park, Colorado.

"Getting too close to elk is hazardous," Parks Canada warns people planning to visit Jasper. "Attacks have occurred at any time of the year. Females are most aggressive during the May/June calving season, and males are especially dangerous during the September/October rut.

"They may sometimes appear unconcerned by our presence, but all park animals are unpredictable and potentially dangerous."

Recognize the warning signs

During the calving season, Parks Canada advises looking out for female elk "staring directly at you with flattened ears and raised rump hair, along with curled lips and grinding teeth".

Charging, kicking, circling, and following are also signs that you need to leave the area. Cows often leave their young hidden while they go to forage, so you may not see the calf that's being guarded.

Male elk look spectacular during the rutting season with their majestic antlers, but it's important to give them a wide berth. "You are in danger if a bull elk appears agitated, has his antlers lowered towards you, and is pawing the ground or thrashing bushes," says Parks Canada.

If you're planning to visit a National Park soon, take a look at our guide how to enjoy elk rutting season safely, which is full of helpful advice. Our list of wildlife photography tips from a pro may also come in handy.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 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).