If the bears in town weren’t enough to keep your eyes peeled, it is also now elk rutting season.
That means stay alert with all of your senses.
“Sometimes you might not see them, but if you hear that bugling, that’s the sign to keep your eyes open that there could be an elk around as well,” said James McCormick, human wildlife conflict supervisor with Parks Canada.
The elk rut will continue on until early October. During any other time of year, Parks would recommend that people keep at least 30 metres away from all ungulates including elk.
During this time of year, McCormick suggests a greater distance – 50 metres or more.
While no areas will be closed off like they would in the spring during elk calving season, the townsite and areas to the east – from the wastewater treatment plant to Jasper Park Lodge – will see most of the elk. Campgrounds will be affected as well.
Parks Canada is emphasizing that bull elk are dangerous, hence the extra distance that should be kept from them.
“Places like the townsite or the campgrounds can be a challenge when people and elk might get too close,” McCormick said.
“They will charge full on with the antlers. We’ve had vehicles punctured. Last year, I dealt with a full-sized one ton pickup truck with full-sized tires that the elk put an antler through and flattened the tire. The amount of force it takes to do that is quite extensive.”
McCormick also suggests that you make sure you don’t get between the male and the females. That behaviour will increase your risk quite a bit. Keep your pets on a leash as well.
If you follow the rules, you should be able to observe some of nature’s most majestic creatures in the park.
“It’s a great opportunity,” McCormick said. “People come from around the world and definitely North America to watch the elk rut. Sometimes we get some spectacular battles between a couple of equally-sized bulls. There’s sometimes an opportunity to watch that from a nice safe location.”
“The rest of the time, we’re asking people to be extra aware and give them a lot of space,” he added.
All elk encounters should be reported to Parks Dispatch at 780-852-6155.
Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh