A frightening video out of Estes Park, Colorado, showing a bull elk charging at tourists, is a reminder to honor warnings about wildlife — especially during mating season.
An Oklahoma couple caught the attack on camera as they were sitting in their car near the visitors center at the park, which acts as a gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, northeast of Denver. The video shows the elk charging at a group of people.
According to CNN, the elk was initially aggravated by a camera’s flash, and then proceeded to charge at a woman, wearing a red sweatshirt in the video. She falls to the ground, and the elk’s antlers seem to make contact with her multiple times. At one point, she puts her feet out toward the elk to attempt to block its advances.
But Estes Park supervisor Brian Berg intervened, driving his truck in between the elk and the people after he left a meeting only to see what was happening.
It seems that Berg came to the rescue just in time, as the elk then proceeded to charge at the truck, even leaving a large hole in the vehicle’s side.
“That bull was very aggressive,” Berg told Colorado station CBS4. “When she got up, he kind of went back at her. I was able to drive and park right here, in front of the bull and the people, and he just hit me as soon as I parked. He shook that truck like it was nothing. He put a pretty good hole through it.”
“I wish I could say it was [uncommon for tourists to approach elk], but no, people are getting too close to the elk all the time,” Berg said. “It’s a very dangerous situation.”
A man also fell down while trying to escape the elk’s charge, and was reportedly treated for a cut at a local hospital, CBS4 reported.
Elks’ mating season runs from mid-September to mid-October and is known as “rutting season.” Males become even more aggressive than usual during this time and can even fight to the death to guard their “harem” of females from other bulls, according to The Elk Network.
While last week’s incident didn’t result in any serious injuries, Berg says that he hopes the video acts as a warning for tourists about wildlife.
“Everyone gets lucky every once in a while,” he told CBS4. “I just hope that everyone who sees the video learns to stay back, way back. That’s why we have zoom on our cameras.”
Colorado Parks and Wildlife says that most “dangerous and potentially harmful encounters occur because people fail to leave the animals alone,” and points out that feeding elk, among other animals, in Colorado is illegal.
CBS4 reported that CPW officials say that anyone who does encounter an elk should keep a barrier in between themselves and the animal (like Berg did with his truck), and to “yell, clap or honk a car horn. They can also throw items at the elk in an effort to distract it during an attack.”