Elk selfie in Banff National Park.
Elk selfie in Banff National Park.

We may think that tourists blatantly disregarding rules in national parks is a distinctly American problem but tell that to the folks up at Banff National Park. Its a good thing this elk still had velvet on its antlers and wasn’t in the rut or this interaction may have gone quite differently.

Minding Your Elk Manners (or How to Behave in Elk Country)

Just because you see them in town, on playing fields or feeding near the roadside, please don ‘t mistake these elk for tame animals. These wild animals do not have a tolerance of humans getting too close and will lash out with hooves or charge with antlers forward if disturbed.

  • Always keep a safe distance away from wildlife. We recommend keeping 30 metres, or 3 bus lengths, away from elk for safety.
  • If an elk becomes alert or nervous, grinds its teeth or sends its ears back, you’re too close – back off.
  • Use binoculars or a telephoto lens on your camera to get a closer look. Your vehicle is an ideal “blind” to take photographs from, but don’t spend too much time taking pictures – you could cause an “elk jam.”
  • Never approach or feed any park wildlife for their well-being as well as yours.
  • Never come between a cow and her calf or between any group of elk — period.

The key to safely viewing elk is to respect their wildness and need for space.

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