A couple visiting Rocky Mountain National Park recently demonstrated exactly how not to act around elk, particularly as we enter the animals' rutting season when they are likely to be more unpredictable and aggressive than usual.
In a video shot by another park visitor, the couple stop their car in the road near a bull elk, and enlist the help of another person to take their pictures with the animal. The clip, which you can watch below, shows them causally strolling within a few feet off the elk to snap more photos before eventually leaving it to continue feeding in peace.
A photo posted by on
While this couple escaped unscathed, their actions were enough to change the elk's behavior, showing they they were too close for comfort. While the bull remained calm this time, things could have easily played out very differently.
As the National Park Service explains, elk can be very dangerous during the rut, which takes place from late August through October, peaking in mid-September.
While elk might not cause as many injuries as bison, they can run at 25mph for an extended period of time, and change direction quickly. A mature bull elk like the one in the video may weigh over 1,000lb, and stand 5ft tall at the shoulder.
You should remain at least 25 yards (23 meters) from the animals at all times. If you are charged by an elk, the NPS advises you to seek shelter in a car or building, or behind a tall, solid object like a tree or wall as quickly as possible.
- Best binoculars and monoculars: watch wildlife from a safe distance
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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.