Big Sky Roundup

Yellowstone National Park warns to stay away from bull elk during fall mating season

By: - September 6, 2023 5:01 pm

Bull elk, Sepulcher Mountain Trail. (Photo courtesy of Yellowstone National Park/Flickr)

Yellowstone National Park is warning visitors to stay away from bull elk during the fall mating season, called the rut, which has already started.

In a press release Wednesday, the park said bull elk are unpredictable during this time of year and people have been severely injured. Elk run quickly and may change direction without warning.

The park says to stay at least 25 years, or two bus lengths, away from an elk, and if it approaches you, to back away immediately. “You are responsible for your own safety.” Follow directions from park rangers.

If an elk charges you, the park advises:

  • Quickly find shelter in your vehicle or behind a tall, sturdy barrier.
  • Run away if nearby shelter is not available.

Never approach or pursue animals to take their picture. Lenses with focal lengths of 300mm or greater are recommended for adequate reach.

The warning follows close encounters this year between tourists and other park animals, bison and bears, including one goring of a woman who sustained injuries to her chest and abdomen from a bison.

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