ESTES PARK, Colo. (KDVR) — It’s mating season, or the rut is here for Colorado elk.
It’s the time of year when you’ll see more elk than any other time of year, but it’s also when the bulls are more aggressive. This was proven on camera Saturday in a video captured in Estes Park on U.S. 34.
In the video, an elk jam was captured by Kris Hazelton of Estes Park News.
“A big huge herd bull was herding his cows and calves right in the middle of Highway 34 and he was right in the middle of the lane when the cars were stopping,” Hazelton said, “and the car right in front of us and the bull elk just kind of seemed to single him out, and he ran right up to it.”
A scary sight for her and her family as a male elk, or bull, charged towards the truck, antlers first.
“It was pretty shocking and scary, I was worried about people in the truck because I thought if his antlers were to go through the window, someone could get injured, so I was definitely concerned,” Hazelton said.
Thankfully, the elk crossed and went on his way, but according to experts, you can never be too safe around these guys during the rut season, which lasts through mid-October.
How to stay safe around elk in Colorado
Joel Berger, a wildlife biology professor at the University of Colorado, said to keep your guard up during this season.
“They’re high on testosterone, their antigens are exploding, they’re kind of blind and are just in fierce mating mode and can view people and sometimes cars as competition,” Berger said.
So, what should you do? Always keep a distance of at least 100 feet and keep your eyes peeled. It’s OK to watch them, but you must give the wildlife plenty of space.
“This the best time of the year to watch elk. It’s exciting. There’s a lot of biology going on and the most important thing is your safety and the safety of the elk, and that means don’t honk, don’t facilitate, don’t push an elk, because they’re going to come at you and someone is going to lose,” Berger said.
“Learning to live with wildlife is a real struggle, but it’s a real important one if we want to coexist and maintain some of the diversity we have in our world,” Berger said.
A general rule of thumb is to hold up your thumb over the animal. If your thumb covers the animal’s body, you are likely at a safe distance.