rut

Elk in Yellowstone National Park are beginning to bugle, signally the annual rut.

It’s that time of year when the elk are crazy with love hormones, and Yellowstone National Park is warning visitors to keep their distance.

“We normally put this (warning) out in advance of the rut each year to get the safety message out,” said Linda Veress of the park’s public affairs office. “We do the same for the spring calving season.”

The park reminds visitors to keep 25 yards between themselves and bison and elk. Bull elk are particularly active and sometimes aggressive during the rut which begins in September.

Despite record visitation, the park hasn’t reported any wildlife-related deaths in 2021. A solo hiker was injured by a bear in May while hiking on the Beaver Ponds Trail near Mammoth Hot Springs. An Illinois woman was charged with approaching too close to a grizzly sow with two cubs.

In 2019, a park employee was injured by a cow elk in the Mammoth Hot Springs developed area early in the morning.

“It has been a very busy season indeed,” Veress said via email. “We had a few wildlife-related and thermal trespass incidents but no fatalities associated with either.”

“Bull elk can be unpredictable and dangerous during this time,” the park said in a news release. “Stay alert. People have been severely injured by elk. Elk run quickly and may change direction without warning.”

Elk can cover 25 yards in a moment and visitors are told to find shelter in your vehicle or behind a barrier if an elk charges.

“You are responsible for your own safety,” the park said.

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