"Mamas are strong" – angry elk and moose charge hikers straying near calves

Cow elk and calf in river, Yellowstone National Park, USA
(Image credit: Getty)

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has shared a video compilation showing cow elk and moose chasing careless tourists who strayed too close to them and their calves. 

"Wildlife are protecting & raising their young," the organization explained in a Twitter post. "Moose, deer and elk with newborn calves and fawns can become aggressive to defend them."

In the clip, which you can watch below, a cow moose emerges from undergrowth behind her calf, making a person trip and fall, a mother elk chases several tourists near a roadside, and another moose makes a bluff charge at a person who has strayed off a trail near her young.

Young animals may sometimes seem to be alone, but their mothers are rarely far away. Elk and deer in particular will often leave calves and fawns in long grass while they forage to keep them hidden from predators.

"Newborn fawns are actually frequently alone and isolated during their first weeks of life – and that's on purpose," big game co-ordinator Dax Mangus explained in a blog post earlier this year. "The mother knows that leaving the fawn alone is the best way to protect it from predators."

There have been several cases where well-meaning members of the public have handled newborn animals, mistakenly believing they have been abandoned. During the Memorial Day weekend, visitors to Yellowstone National Park loaded a baby elk into their car and drove it to a police station. The calf later ran off into woodland, and its fate is unknown.

"Keeping your distance and not touching wildlife are the keys to keeping young animals alive," Mangus said. "Attempting to take matters into your own hands and trying to 'help' wildlife usually does more harm than good. Help wildlife by allowing them to remain wild."

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.