Yellowstone tourists (and grizzly bears) set for baby elk season

Yellowstone National Park has cautioned tourists to be extra careful with elk-calving season getting underway.

“Stay alert. Look around corners before exiting buildings or walking around blind spots: cow elk may bed their calves near buildings and under cars,” the park warned in a news release. “Cow elk are much more aggressive towards people during the calving season and may run towards you or kick.”

At the same time, a prominent tour company reminded social-media followers that the park’s grizzly bears might also be turning their attention to baby elk.

“It is near that time of year when elk calves will be born and the grizzlies will turn their sights on the lone female elk,” Yellowstone Insight began via Facebook.

For bears (and wolves), locating elk calves is challenging because the tiny critters are born with little or no scent and often kept hidden.

A lone cow elk, Yellowstone Insight elaborated, might signal to a bear that a calf is nearby:

“Elk give birth in a solitary area, removed from the herd, in hopes of not drawing attention during this vulnerable time. But, it is the smart grizzly bear that knows to look for the solitary elk… they become a serious predator, zig-zagging through the area in hopes of finding the hidden calf.”

The National Park Service notes that in the spring “a grizzly bear’s diet primarily consists of elk, bison, and other ungulates. These ungulates are primarily winter-killed carrion (already dead and decaying animals), and elk calves killed by predation.”

Yellowstone Insight noted that a grizzly bear momma and two cubs spent the past several days feasting on a bison carcass in the northern range.

But the bison carcass is almost fully consumed and the bears will move on, with momma bear perhaps keeping an eye peeled for a lone female elk.

–Elk calf image courtesy of Yellowstone National Park

Story originally appeared on For The Win