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Littleton man almost gored by Estes Park elk

LITTLETON, Colo. — Video captures a man nearly gored by an elk as he observed a herd in Estes Park.

Shane Paz loves elk, even studies them, which is why he was thrilled to spot a herd toward the end of a trip to Estes Park to see them.

“We drove around for 2 hours I bet looking to find elk,” said Paz.

Paz said he got out of his car, but kept his distance. He said he was especially careful knowing that elk are in rutting season, a time where bulls compete for cows.

“They go bananas, they literally lose their mind over that,” said Paz.

Paz watched with concern as people got dangerously close to the herd to capture photos. That’s why he was all the more surprised when a large bull turned on him, instead of the group of people close to the cows.

“We didn’t in anyway antagonize him or anything. I didn’t. I saw people with the iPhones, like I said, three feet away from the cows,” said Paz.

A video captured by another person shows Paz dive behind a tree, just as the elk approaches him, preventing him from getting gored.

“He covered 35 yards in a couple seconds,” said Paz. “It was pretty surreal.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife was forced to put down an elk in Estes Park Thursday after it attacked two women.

“My first thought was it had to be the same one because it was out of character for an elk,” said Paz.

“Bull elk can certainly be aggressive this time of year. This is the rut so this is the breeding season for elk,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesperson Jennifer Churchill.

Churchill said the problem with elk, especially in Estes Park, is they become desensitized to humans as more and more people get too close to take photos.

“We have to be careful not to get too comfortable with these animals. Even though they appear to tolerate us, we need to keep them wild. So what we need to do is discourage them from hanging around us,” said Churchill.

Churchill said if people want to take photos of elk, they should do so behind their car or behind a tree. She said everyone should keep a safe distance and take the photo quickly; lingering around the herd only makes them more comfortable around humans.

“We can’t take away their wildness. They have to remain wild to keep them successful in nature. So we need to make sure they have a healthy, natural fear of people,” said Churchill. “We owe it to our wildlife, if we want to have them around for future generations, we need to respect them, we need to let them be wild.”

Paz said the close encounter hasn’t changed his opinion about elk, but it’s certainly made him value keeping a tree between himself and the animals.