Each fall, thousands of visitors are drawn to Estes Park to watch herds of elk gather in the valley for their mating season, or “rut.” With this popular activity comes the responsibility for everyone to be safe and respect these majestic animals. During the rut, the male “bull” elk are irritable, aggressive and extremely dangerous to onlookers who get too close.
The two biggest errors made by enthusiastic onlookers are getting too close to the elk and “elk jams,” caused when drivers park their vehicles in the way of traffic in order to watch the elk. Estes Park Police and Park Rangers remind us that “Safety should be first on the minds of elk-viewers, so they can have a great experience.”
The Police Department provides the following tips to visitors for safe elk viewing:
Remember: Elk are wild animals. View from a safe distance to avoid injury or death. If an animal is carefully watching you and/or appears “jumpy” when you move, you are too close.
Keep dogs secured on-leash and do not allow them to bark at, lunge at, or chase wildlife.
Never block traffic. Move your vehicle to a safe place completely off the roadway to watch elk.
Do not imitate an elk call, or bugle which can be misinterpreted by the elk. This can endanger you and the animals.
Elk know no boundaries, but people do. Respect private property when viewing wildlife.
The Estes Park Police Department does enforce wildlife laws including laws against feeding or harassing wildlife or allowing one’s pet to harass wildlife. For more information, please contact the Town of Estes Park Public Information Office at 970-577-3701.