Bull elk in Estes Park, Colorado, are aggressive in the spring, too. Credit: Estes Park/Facebook

Aggressive Elk Attack Two Kids in Less Than a Week in Estes Park

Colorado officials are warning people about an aggressive cow elk roaming residential areas in Estes Park after two kids were attacked.

Local and wildlife officials are urging people about an aggressive cow elk roaming Estes Park, Colorado. According to Tuesday's announcement, the elk attacked a four-year-old boy and an eight-year-old girl about four days apart.

Kate Miller, the town's public information officer, said in a statement that elk calving season takes place in the spring. That means that female elk, or cows, become "irritable and highly protective" of their young. "Known calving areas should be avoided and caution should be exercised at all times during calving season," she wrote.

Miller explained that elks often give birth in the bird sanctuary along Lake Estes Trail and Stanley Park. However, birthing can take place anywhere. "For safety, it is important to obey the 'trail closed' signs and take a different route," she wrote. She also warned to "be watchful in residential neighborhoods," which is where both attacks happened.

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The June 3 elk attack

On Monday, wildlife officials say a cow elk attacked a four-year-old boy as he played at a playground around 1:30 p.m. Officials say the elk "suddenly charged and stomped on him multiple times," but it stopped when a family member scared it away. The boy was treated at a nearby hospital and released that same day.

After the attack, a wildlife officer responded to the scene. He found multiple cow elk in the area. He hazed the elk using non-lethal bean bag rounds to encourage it to leave. Then, officials closed the playground indefinitely. They think what spurred the attack were two elk calves "hidden" in a nearby rock area.

The May 31 elk attack

Last week, a cow elk attacked an eight-year-old girl while she rode her bike in her neighborhood. Authorities say the elk charged the girl from about 60 yards away. Once it caught up to her, it stomped on her multiple times. She was treated at a nearby hospital and released later that day.

Jason Duetsch, an area wildlife manager for the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Department, called the incident an "unusual and unfortunate situation." He said: "While it is a natural reaction for cow elk to be very defensive during calving season, it is not often they hurt someone, especially a child."

Following the attack, a wildlife officer hazed the cow elk, which had acted aggressively toward him. After it had calmed down, he monitored the area for several hours. The officer returned the next day and transported the elk calf to a department health lab equipped to care for newborn animals.

How to avoid elk attacks

Experts say to avoid an elk attack, you should be aware of your surroundings, especially if there's an elk with a calf. Other tips include:

  • Obey trails signs marked "closed" for calving and head the other way.
  • Always keep a safe distance from wild animals, especially elk. If they seem "jumpy," you're too close.
  • Keep pets on leashes and/or away from elk. Do not let them bark, lunge, or chase wildlife.
  • Never block traffic with your vehicle. Instead, move it off the road.