Elk rut has begun, NPS reminds not to get close

JACKSON, Wyo. — Cooler temperatures, spots of bright colors on leaves, and elk bugles throughout the valley are all signs that fall is just on the horizon.

During this time of year, many animals begin their mating season in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Elk, in particular, have some of the most intense battles for mates this time of year.

Bull elk let off loud bugles to attract potential mates and let challengers know they’re in the area. When two rutting bulls collide it can be such a vicious fight that on rare occasions it can end fatally for one of the elk, usually leaving the other roughed up and bleeding.

A large bull elk can weigh over 700 lbs. That combined with basically a set of daggers on their head makes these animals dangerous to anything that comes in its way.

Recently, Fox News reported on a hunter in Oregon who was fatally gored by an elk after he had injured it with his bow. This serves as a tragic reminder that elk can be much more vicious than they look.

Normally the park service asks people to keep a distance of at least 25 yards from elk, but this time of year it is wise to just not get close at all. Stay in your car or view elk through binoculars if you see them. Though, elk have even been known to charge cars during their rut.

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