It is officially elk mating season in Yellowstone National Park! And with that said, Yellowstone officials have just released a public statement on August 28, 2020 warning people about the heightened dangers during this time.
Yellowstone NPS wrote on Twitter, “WARNING: The elk rut has begun in Yellowstone National Park. Bull elk can be extremely dangerous during this time. You are responsible for your own safety.”
According to the National Park Service, mating season is the number one time of the year where bull elk have been known to seriously injure people. The elk rut starts in early September and lasts until about mid-October.
During this time they’re highly aggressive and NPS warns visitors to stay as far away from them as possible. They say if you do find yourself in a position where you’re near one then at least keep a minimum of 25 feet away from the elk. They can burst into a quick sprint and change direction without warning.
If an elk does charge at you, NPS says to seek shelter in a building or your vehicle. If those are not available then it would be smart to find the closest sturdy barrier to shield yourself behind. Below is a video from 2018 showing what happens when you do not respect this distancing rule.