Huge, hormonal elk vents his frustration on visitor's car at National Park

Close-up of bugling elk
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bull elk can be particularly aggressive during late summer and early fall, as one driver learned the hard way at Jasper National Park in Canada. The animals are currently in their mating season (known as the rut), when males compete for dominance by displaying their antlers, bugling, and sometimes fighting rivals. It's a spectacular sight, but even careful drivers may find themselves facing a repair bill if a particularly aggressive bull takes a dislike to their vehicle.

A video of this particular incident (which you can see below) was shared online this week via Instagram account TouronsOfNationalParks. The account usually documents instances of bad behavior at sites of natural beauty around the world, often involving wildlife, but sometimes people just get unlucky.

"What the video does not show is that the bull elk came from the left side of the highway so traffic stopped to let it go across," explained photographer John Krampl, who shot the footage last September. "But, the cows were on the right side of the highway and the bull saw that car as being in between him and his cows so he became aggressive. Just acting his natural behaviour and unfortunately this car was in his way. "

"Though they might not appear threatening, elk can be aggressive and attack without warning," Parks Canada warns people planning a visit to Jasper. "In the spring calving season (May - June) female elk aggressively defend their young. During the fall mating season (Aug - Sept), male elk are particularly belligerent. Do not approach elk in any season as they are dangerous and can attack without warning."

Visitors are warned to stay at least 30 meters away from elk at all times, and never get between a male and a harem of females.

"Do not park your vehicle between a male and the females," Parks Canada says. "Elk may charge at your vehicle, which may result in damage

Elk safety

To keep yourself and your family safe, it's always best to travel together and keep children within arm's reach. During the rut, watch out for warning signs including male animals lowering their antlers towards you, pawing the ground, or thrashing at bushes. Agitated elk may also make short bluff charges before charging for real.

If you find yourself in close quarters with an elk, Parks Canada advises you to act dominant, and raise your arms or jacket to make yourself look larger. Maintain eye contact with the animal and move away, seeking protection behind a tree or vehicle. If you are knocked down, get up and move away; if you play dead, you may be trampled and seriously injured.

For more advice, take a look at our guides how to enjoy elk rutting season safely and wildlife safety: eight tips for surprise encounters.

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.