"They'll stomp his skull" – thoughtless tourists unleash dog around giant elk

Bull elk bugling at Yellowstone National Park, USA
Elk don't like dogs and are known to attack them (Image credit: Getty)

Two tourists in Banff National Park have been captured on video getting dangerously close to two elk on a hiking trail, and even letting their dog off leash to approach the animals.

The video, which you can watch below, was recorded by Instagram user Alec McGrath and posted on the page TouronsOfNationalParks. McGrath writes that he and his wife were driving slowly along the adjacent road to capture photos of the elk when the clueless tourists commit the wildlife error. The pair can be heard cautioning the couple to get their dog under control as the elk display signs of nervousness and aggression.

"Guys, put your dog back on the leash. They deal with wolves on a daily basis, they'll kick your dog's ass."

Instead of securing the dog, the dog owner responds, "Don't worry, he ain't no Shih Tzu like your dog, probably."

As a result, McGrath reports that he called the Banff National Park Dispatch to report the behavior to the Warden, and that he's been advised the park officials will be pressing charges."

There are around 350 elk living in Banff National Park in Alberta, and they are currently in rutting season. Elk rutting season is the official term for elk mating season, which occurs between mid-August through mid-October, depending on your location. 

During this time, bull elk engage in an intricate display of pageantry to attract a mate including gathering cow elk together in small groups called harems, dousing themselves in the heady scent of mud and urine, bugling, and locking antlers with other bulls in fight. If you want to watch elk at this time, it's advised you get yourself a pair of binoculars and do so from a distance.

Elk safety

Like moose, elk don't like dogs and are known to attack them. It is best to hike with your dog on a leash in areas where you might encounter elk, or get them on a leash quickly if you come across a gang. 

If you come across a herd of elk on a hike, keep your distance, know the warning signs they display when they feel threatened and back away slowly. Learn more in our article on how to enjoy elk rutting season safely.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.