"Oh, they're coming" – angry elk gang up on woman disturbing calves at National Park

Cow elk and her calf under tree
(Image credit: Getty)

A woman has been caught on camera being pursued by a herd of irritated elk after she strolled up to their calves at Rocky Mountain National Park. In a video, which you can watch below, the woman can be seen striding ahead of a group of hikers and taking out her phone to snap pictures of newborn elk at the roadside. The others hang back and try to warn her that several adults are approaching, but she ignores them until she's almost surrounded by four adults, which force her back.

The incident was recorded by Becca Eisenberg and shared on Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone, which calls out examples of bad behavior at US National Parks, often involving wildlife.

Recently two tourists were seen sprinting away from an irate cow elk at Yellowstone National Park after getting too close to her newborn calf, and another were filmed harassing a mother bear and her cubs.

Elk are usually wary of humans and prefer to avoid close encounters, but cows are fiercely protective of their calves during the spring and early summer, and people have been seriously injured after getting too close. In June 2018, a woman suffered severe injuries after being knocked to the ground and kicked by a cow elk guarding her calf at at Yellowstone.

Interfering with wildlife can also have tragic consequences for the animals. Last month, a man was seen pushing a baby bison up from a riverbank onto a road. Attempts to reunite it with its herd failed, and Rangers eventually took the difficult decision to euthanize the animal after it began approaching cars and people.

During Memorial Day weekend, two other visitors put a baby elk in their car and drove it to a police station near the park. It's not known what happened to the calf, which ran away, but it seems unlikely it found its mother.

Elk safety

The National Park Service recommends staying at least 25 yards (23 meters) from elk and bison at all times. If you're not sure how far that is, close one eye, hold out your arm, and give the animal a thumbs-up. If you can completely hide the creature behind your thumb, you're OK.

For more advice, see our guides how to enjoy elk rutting reason safely and wildlife safety: eight tips for unexpected 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.