ESTES PARK, Colo.-- A video posted on the Elk in Estes Park Facebook page on Christmas day prompted a warning from Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials on Thursday: Do not feed or pet wildlife.
In the video, you see a woman reach her hand out to pet a mature bull elk who is more than 3 times her size.
The incident happened outside the Country Super Market in Estes Park.
"It’s absolutely inappropriate to feed them, or try to pet them,” said Scott Webermeier, owner of the super market. "They’re gorgeous animals and at a distance something to admire, but not the pony across the street by any means”.
The elk tends to hang around the super market.
Webermeier said he has to warn visitors on a regular basis not to get too close.
"I don’t think some of our guests, if you will, realize is that those antlers are a load and they’re pretty pointy!” he said.
After Colorado Parks & Wildlife saw the video on Thursday, they issued a warning to visitors and reminder to residents:
“Feeding or petting wildlife can be very dangerous,” said Jason Clay, a spokesperson with Colorado Parks & Wildlife. “It can cause bigger problems down the road, and in the case of big game wildlife like elk, it is against the law”.
Clay added, “When wildlife is fed, they become habituated to people and in turn begin to expect food when they see humans. That level of habituation can lead to dangerous encounters”.
For more information about how you should interact with wildlife in Colorado, click here.