A man narrowly avoided disaster at Estes Park recently when he got on the wrong side of a large bull elk protecting his harem. In a video captured by another visitor to the area, the man is one of several tourists crowding around and getting much too close to the animals in an attempt to get a better picture.
In the clip, which you can watch below, the bull makes its agitation clear by bugling and pacing, and when the people fail to move, it makes a bluff charge at one individual standing alone, nearly knocking him off his feet.
The video was shot by Megan Foster, and shared on Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone, which highlights bad visitor behavior at US National Parks and other sites of natural beauty – often involving wildlife.
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Elk are naturally quite docile, but like any wild animals they can be unpredictable – particularly during their mating season (known as the rut), which takes place from late summer to early fall. During this period, males (bulls) will round up a group of female (cows) and guard them fiercely from rivals.
It's a spectacular sight as the bulls compete for dominance by displaying their magnificent antlers, bugling, and sparring with one another, and it's no surprise that visitors to locations like Estes Park want to capture the moment, but it's best to do so from a safe distance. The National Park Service recommends staying at least 25 yards (23 meters) from elk at all times, and observing them with a pair of binoculars or a long camera lens rather than getting too close.
If an elk (or any other animal) changes its behavior as a result of your presence, it's a sign that you're too close. For more advice, see 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.