Getting too close to an elk is a bad idea, with the animals being unpredictable and prone to charging if provoked. Doing so when a mother is protecting a calf is an even worse plan.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife took to Facebook in July to remind residents in Estes Park — and tourists visiting the area — to steer clear of the animals when possible, as a cow elk had shown threatening behavior while looking after its young.
CPW said the animal had “body slammed” at least one car and had also charged at vehicles and people.
“In general please avoid areas where cow elk are rearing their newborn calves,” the organization said. “They will be extra defensive when protecting their young.”
“PLEASE AVOID THIS AREA if possible and find a different route for at least the next few days,” the post added, referring to Morgan Street and University Drive, where the elk had been frequently spotted.
While elk will usually try to avoid humans, emotions are heightened when they are caring for their offspring.
But even if the mother isn’t around, it’s still wise to avoid approaching elk calves, even if you think they are in danger.
In one instance at Yellowstone National Park, some visitors who had the best intentions took a lone calf to the local police station. According to Advnture, however, elk mothers will often leave calves while they forage for food, so this behavior isn’t unusual.
The problem is if calves come in close contact with humans, they can be rejected by the herd and forced to fend for themselves. In these cases, the animal will often approach cars and humans, and when that happens, it’s likely the elk will be euthanized because it presents a danger.
The general advice is that locals and visitors should simply let animals be. If there are serious concerns, contacting park rangers or local authorities is the best course of action instead of taking matters into your own hands.
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