By: Kris Hazelton

Elk Watching - Be Safe!

The rail fencing around the golf course provides a false sense of security. The elk can and do easily jump over it. Caution is advised because they are extremely protective of their calves.

The annual elk rut has begun and the bull elk are already busy bugling, gathering their harems of females and challenging one another for breeding rights.

The elk are amazing and wonderous animals that are fun to watch but remember, these are wild animals competing for dominance and the bulls are especially “pumped-up” at this time of year.

Elk Watching

Common sense is required to be safe around any wild animal. The local elk in Estes Park have become accustomed to the presence humans, so at times they may seem tame, but they are not! They are wild, free roaming animals and can be extremely protective of their young and each other. Our town welcomes all visitors to enjoy the uniqueness of being able to watch elk, but it is very important to realize that these wild animals are extremely unpredicable and can suddenly run towards people and even attack without provocation. Be safe, don’t take chances! Photo above illustrates what not to do.

Avoid potential accident, injury or death by always viewing from a safe distance. If an animal is carefully watching you and appears “jumpy,” you are way too close. Avoid eye contact and back away. Raise your arms to make yourself look larger. For photographers, a good rule of thumb is “give them room, use your zoom.”

Elk Viewing

Keep you dog leashed and quiet. Do not allow them to bark, lunge at or chase wildlife. Elk view your dog as a predator.

Never block traffic. “Elk jams” are a danger to everyone – blocking traffic on single lane roads creates all kinds of potentially dangerous situations. Be sure to pull completely off the roadway, out of the way of through traffic.

Elk Viewing

Never, ever imitate an elk call or bugle during the rut. This can endanger you and the elk.

Please respect private property. Elk know no boundaries and are found all around town. If they are in a private homeowners yard, please watch the animals from a public area.

Never get between two bull elk. Situations can change very rapidly during the rut and you never want to be caught in between two rival animals. 

Elk Viewing Best From A Safe Distance

EP News photos

Don’t ignore the cows, they can still be dangerous, any time of year, not just during calving season.

Remember – elk are wild animals. Be aware and be respectful. View quietly from a safe distance. Never attempt to touch or feed wildlife, it’s dangerous and illegal. Keep dogs leashed and quiet and when photographing, use your zoom, give them room.

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