The annual elk rut is in full swing across the American west, and the bull elks are starting to get a little frisky in their masculine competition for the right to mate. The video below shows numerous bulls bugling and hovering around a group of cows in Yellowstone National Park late last week.
The elk rut usually occurs from mid-September to mid-October. The bulls compete with each other over harems of females by bugling, displaying their antlers, emitting a musky odor, and sometimes fighting.
Bulls can be very dangerous to humans this time of year, but that doesn’t stop the tourists from getting as close as they possibly can for that perfect shot. You can even hear the Yellowstone park rangers using a megaphone to tell people to keep moving to avoid confrontations with the agitated bulls earlier in the video.
Remember to never approach wild elk, but especially this time of year. I’ve skipped the video about midway so you can see one bull charge a passing vehicle and the bugle. He’s clearly very protective of his prospective harem.
Tips from Yellowstone National Park to stay safe during the elk rut:
“Though the elk rut is undoubtedly a spectacular phenomenon, it’s important to be mindful of your own safety and that of the animals while you watch—and listen—to this spectacular display. Bull elk can become extremely aggressive during mating season, and may charge vehicles or even people if they feel threatened. As a general rule of thumb:
- Give the elk plenty of room. This includes refraining from approaching them in your vehicle—or especially on foot.
- It’s illegal to approach elk closer than 25 yard in the park, or to imitate the call of an elk.
- Exit Mammoth Hot Springs buildings on high alert, as you never know who might be bedded down in a patch of shade just outside the Mammoth Dining Room!”