What’s rule number one when observing elk in the wild? Keep a safe distance! Parks usually have their own guidelines on what constitutes a safe distance, but you certainly won’t be finding any ranger saying it’s acceptable to go within 50 yards (150 feet) of an elk (it’s illegal to go any closer in many places). Also, don’t approach bull elk, and if you see one on the side of the road, STAY IN YOUR CAR.
Further down the list of how to act safely around elk, you’ll find something telling you to back away if an elk begins to approach. Put the camera away and slowly move in the opposite direction, unless you’re trying to get seriously hurt. If an elk begins to charge at you, you can (and should) run away. Get behind a tree or other solid object so the animal can’t come directly at you.
This video, which appears to have occurred during the rut season for elk, shows a brilliant tourist following none of those safety tips. Stay a safe distance? Nope, I’m going to get right up in the animals face with my phone. Back away cautiously when the animal begins to approach? Nope. I’m going to keep filming while backing away, just to increase those chances of tripping as much as possible. Run when the animal begins to initiate a charge? Of course not! That would ruin my footage!
“Im just here to remind you that Bull Elk are incredibly unpredictable and aggressive at this time of year. Stay in your car and never approach them.” – Kendra Neef
Seriously though, why do people think this is okay? I’d love to walk around the streets of some major city like New York and poll people on proper wildlife viewing tactics. I’d like to think that most people are smart enough to know not to approach the massive animal, but maybe that’s just incredibly wishful thinking…
Image Credit: Kendra Neef via Instagram