This encounter ends about as well as it should after one tourist decided to taunt a massive elk, only to have the bull full-on attack his SUV.
Ask and ye shall receive. Why anyone would ever taunt an elk escapes this Outsider (see: all intelligent humans), but here we are. According to the caption for the footage: “The passenger of the vehicle, attacked in the video, started taunting the elk prior to the video starting.”
“Attack” feels to be the wrong word, as the elk was defending its herd. But in doing so, he gives one powerful display of his power. Right as the white SUV comes to pass the bull, he charges; swiping his antlers upward and scarring up the driver’s side in the process. It’s over in an instant, but could’ve been far, far worse had his antler reached someone inside the vehicle.
The incident happened back on September 22, 2021 in Estes Park, Colorado, but is just now going public. According to those responsible for the footage, the driver of the white SUV had been “egging on” the bull elk. Again, why?
As the footage clearly shows, a herd of female elk is situated nearby. The cows are undoubtedly “claimed” by this big bull, who’s in full rutting season. And he’s going to do anything he can to defend his own this time of year.
Elk Rut Leads to Incredible Displays of Power
As elk mate during their rut, bulls can become particularly aggressive towards anything and everything they deem a threat. Which is, of course, going to be a big, glaring white SUV with an ignorant human inside.
To make matters worse, the person in the passenger’s side window keeps their window down to film the bull as they pass. A split-second’s difference and this person would’ve been impaled on the end of the elk’s enormous, pointed rack. It would not have been the first time, either.
Elk in rut behave this way towards one another because they see each other as threats. Every bull is direct competition for mating. Yet no matter the size or aggression apparent in wildlife, people cannot seem to get enough – or close enough – to these battling beasts.
As Outsiders know: we’ve got to respect wildlife as wild. Because when we don’t, bad things happen; for both us humans and wild animals.
In the case of elk during rut, the risk is far greater for tourists than it will ever be to mighty bulls. Getting too close to an elk of either sex during rut (or any time of year) makes a person into a target. And that’s a fight our species simply isn’t built to survive.
Hopefully, this is a lesson learned for this severely misguided Estes Park visitor.