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Elk attack in Yellowstone a reminder to keep safe distance, heed warnings

Posted at 6:34 PM, Sep 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-16 20:37:19-04

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – A park visitor was attacked by a bull elk in Yellowstone National Park Thursday and it was captured on video.

You can see the elk lunge for a group of tourists and use its antlers to knock over a man.

“What we saw in the video was a couple of bull elk that were sparring,” said Yellowstone National Park Spokesman Neal Herbert.

The incident happened near the Mammoth restrooms, people gathered over toward one side of the road, elk out in the field.

“And at one point one of those bulls broke off from that little contest and headed towards a group of people,” Herbert said.

Now, there were rangers nearby and they did issue a warning telling people to get out of the way, to disperse, but there might have been a language barrier.

“The individual that was knocked down by the elk obviously didn’t listen to our rangers and paid the price for not moving out of the way quickly enough,” Herbert said.

These tourists were from Italy and may simply have not understood the warning. But the rule is to keep a minimum of 25 yards away.

Herbert said even that minimum may not be enough if there isn’t cover close by.

“If you’re standing out in the open, as I am now, and you’ve got nowhere to run for quick cover, 25 yards may not be enough because an animal like an elk can cover 25 yards in a couple of seconds, as we saw in the video,” he said.

No citations have been issued, but because a warning to move was shouted out, there is a possibility someone could be cited. The incident remains under investigation.

“They may have started out a safe distance away, but very quickly, because they didn’t move back, they were not a safe distance,” Herbert said. “You really need to watch it and it’s incredibly dynamic because the elk are chasing each other and they’re very fast.”

The park says rangers urged the man who was knocked over by the elk to seek medical attention, but he declined even though he was just a short walk from the Mammoth Clinic.

-John Sherer reporting for MTN News