A group of tourists had a shock at Estes Park recently, when they underestimated the athleticism of a large bull elk. The group gathered the other side of a fence to appreciate and take pictures of the animal, but failed to realize how easily the animal could jump over the barrier.
The encounter was captured by another part visitor, and shared on Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone (opens in new tab), which highlights bad behavior at US National Parks and other sites of natural beauty – often involving wildlife.
In the clip, which you can watch below, the park visitors are clearly much too close to the elk. The National Park Service (opens in new tab) (NPS) advises staying at least 25 yards (25 meters) away from the animals at all times, and bearing in mind that individual animals have their own needs when it comes to personal space.
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Although they prefer to avoid close encounters with humans, like all animals, elk can be unpredictable and can lash out if they feel threatened. This is particularly true during late summer and fall, which is their mating season (known as the rut). At this time of year a bull elk will gather together a harem of females (cows), and protect them fiercely from rivals. This can take the form of posturing with his antlers, bugling, and making bluff charges.
"Observe and photograph from a distance comfortable to the elk," advises the NPS. "If the elk move away or their attention is diverted: you are too close!"
Visitors to nearby Rocky Mountain are also required to stay by the roadside when viewing elk in park meadows, and stick to roadways and designated trails. Using lights or calls to attract the animals is illegal.
For more advice, see our guide how to enjoy elk rutting season safely.
- Best binoculars and monoculars: enjoy wildlife watching from a safe distance
Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 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).
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