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Third Estes Park elk attack in 8 days called ‘unprecedented’ by wildlife officials

In World
June 08, 2024

Encounters between the roughly 3,000 elk that call the Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park area home and more than 4 million tourists that visit the park annually are inevitable.

But Colorado wildlife officials are calling a third attack of a person by a cow elk in Estes Park in eight days “unprecedented.”

The latest attack occurred early Friday morning (June 7), when a cow elk attacked an adult woman walking her dog on leash near South St. Vrain Avenue and Stanley Avenue, according to a Colorado Parks and Wildlife new release.

The woman apparently startled a cow elk and her calf, which later was spotted nearby. Colorado Parks and Wildlife said the cow elk charged the woman from about 20 yards away. The woman tried to run behind a tree for safety, but the elk knocked her to the ground and stomped and kicked her several times.

The woman received medical treatment of her injuries, according to the news release.

“Cow elk with young calves are known to be aggressive, however, we’ve never seen a year like this,” Jason Duetsch, Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s area wildlife manager, stated in a news release. “All three attacks have been unprovoked and unfortunate accidents. We have no clear evidence to suggest these attacks were from the same animal, which underscores how uncommon the elk behavior has been.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesperson Kara Van Hoose told the Coloradoan after the first attack that wildlife is not euthanized when showing common or natural behavior such as an elk mother protecting her calf.

The first two cow elk attacks involved elk stomping children. Those occurred May 30 and June 3.

The last two attacks occurred just several blocks apart south of the intersection of U.S. Highway 36 and Colorado Highway 7. It was not reported where the first attack occurred.

The state wildlife agency is warning residents and tourists visiting Estes Park, gateway to the popular Rocky Mountain National Park, to be extra cautious while outdoors until elk calving season ends, which generally is early summer for elk and moose.

The number of attacks on humans by elk in Colorado was not available.

However, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, from 1990 to 2023, there have been 88 attacks by black bears on humans, three of which were fatal, and 28 attacks by mountain lions on humans, three of which were fatal.

Since 2006, there have been 21 attacks by moose on humans, with one fatal attack, and nearly all occurred with a dog or dogs present.

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Estes Park elk attacks: 3rd attack reported in Colorado town in 8 days

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