DENVER (KDVR) — Wildlife officials are issuing a warning after a man was caught on camera following after an elk in Rocky Mountain National Park on Thursday.
Vicki Ziebert was traveling through the park with her boyfriend and sister when they stopped at the Forest Canyon overlook. Ziebert says that’s where they spotted a man going off trail and chasing a bull elk.
“We were all in just absolute disbelief,” Ziebert said.
Ziebert says the man ignored calls from bystanders to come back to the parking lot, and ignored signs posted in the park to stay on the trail. She estimates he followed the elk at least 50 yards away from the road.
“The lack of remorse or care — I think that’s what really sent me over the edge,” Ziebert said.
Ziebert shared the encounter on Facebook, hoping to educate others on the dangers of that type of behavior. Jason Clay with Colorado Parks and Wildlife calls it an “unwise move” on the part of the man in the photos.
“You’ve got to try to keep some common sense with you and understand that wild animals can act unpredictably and they can hurt you,” Clay said.
Clay says they work year-round to educate people on the proper way to interact with wildlife. However, he says the threat from a bull elk is even greater now as the elk rut season is underway.
“Anything that wanders by it could think of as a challenger and it could run and attack you,” Clay said.
Clay encourages people to use the rule of thumb — hold your thumb up over the animal at a distance. If your thumb covers the animal’s body entirely, you’re likely a safe distance away. He also reminds people to never feed wild animals and do not risk your safety to take a photo of an animal.