• Outdoors Outdoors

Video captures reckless tourist getting too close for comfort to feuding elk bulls: ‘[This is] not smart’

“Always someone getting too close.”

“Always someone getting too close."

Photo Credit: @brian.genge / TikTok

The elk rut is the period of the fall when male elk are looking to mate with female elk. During this time, the males become more aggressive, engaging in “sparring” where they lock horns to fight over territory while making high-pitched noises called “bugling.” 

It can be quite a beautiful and fascinating thing to behold, but you definitely don’t want to behold it from a few feet away, as one reckless tourist was recently captured on camera doing.

@brian.genge Would not recommend getting that close #elk #mountains ♬ original sound – Brian Genge

“Would not recommend getting that close,” wrote Colorado photographer Brian Genge (@brian.genge), who shared the video on TikTok.

According to the YMCA of the Rockies information page about the elk rut, “Especially during the elk rut, bull elk become very aggressive and dangerous to humans observing. Rocky Mountain National Park recommends to stay two bus-lengths away from elk.”

The tourist captured in this video is definitely not the recommended two bus lengths away from the sparring elk and was lucky to have escaped unharmed.

While getting to see two majestic bull elk sparring with each other in person is undoubtedly very exciting, the type of behavior exhibited by this tourist is unfortunately all too common. Other tourists have been captured on film recently setting up lawn chairs in front of rutting elk, approaching the animals, and nearly being gored while trying to get a close-up picture.

These activities are not just dangerous for the humans, but for the elk as well. Animals that are provoked into attacking people often become deemed a threat and are euthanized. Any visit to a national park (or anywhere in nature) should always begin with the goal of connecting with nature without harming or disrupting it. Behaving recklessly around wild animals is stressful for the wildlife, for other bystanders, and for the park rangers whose job it is to protect these ecosystems.

The commenters on the TikTok video agreed.

“Always someone getting too close,” wrote one commenter.

“Not smart!!!” wrote another.

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