Estes Park woman seriously injured in elk attack

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ESTES PARK – A 60-year-old woman who was attacked and trampled by an elk outside her apartment improved to fair condition at a hospital Wednesday.

She was rushed to the hospital in serious condition after the unprovoked attack by a female elk Tuesday.

“Elk can be very aggressive this time of year, when females have young calves to protect,” said Estes Park Police Chief Wes Kufeld.

Neighbor Teresa Binstock saw the attack.

“Looking down (from her apartment window), there was Robin underneath the elk … the elk punching her with her legs,” says Binstock.

The female elk was repeatedly trampling on Robin Pattishall’s back, so Binstock grabbed her bear spray and went to help.

“As soon I step out the door, the mother came at me,” says Binstock.

She stepped back inside and the elk took off. There were four elk on the lawn.

Estes Park’s Police Chief Wes Kufeld says Pattishall did nothing wrong.

“It wasn’t provoked. No, it was just one of those situations where she just happened to walk out and be too close to the calf. And the cow did not like that,” says Kufeld. “It’s a natural instinct of protecting its young,” says Kufeld.

And since elk are in places people use every day, they remind us to respect their boundaries--even when it’s on a lawn outside an apartment building.

“Keep mindful that wildlife is there and it can harm you this time of year,” says Kufeld.

Calving season is over at the end of June, but picks up again in September.

Binstock says Pattishall was conscious and talking to paramedics, and thanking them for helping her.

Kufeld recommends always keeping an eye out for elk with young, and avoiding them completely whenever possible.   

The attack happened at 1256 Community Drive.

The Estes Park Police Department provides the following tips for safe elk viewing:

  • Elk are wild animals which must be observed from a safe distance to avoid injury or death.  If an animal is carefully watching you and appears “jumpy” when you move, you are too close.
  • Keep pets secured on a 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.  This can endanger you and the elk.
  • 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.   
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