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Third Cow Elk Attack in Estes Park Colorado

CPW Investigates Unprecedented Third Cow Elk Attack in Estes Park, Colorado

ESTES PARK, COLORADO – Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is investigating a third unprecedented cow elk attack in Estes Park early Friday morning. This alarming incident underscores the importance of caution during the ongoing elk calving season.

The latest victim, an adult woman, was walking her dog on-leash near South St Vrain Avenue and Stanley Avenue when she startled a cow elk from about 20 yards away. Despite attempting to take cover behind a tree, the woman was knocked down, stomped, and kicked multiple times by the protective elk. She is currently receiving medical treatment. Nearby, the cow elk’s calf was spotted.

Jason Duetsch, CPW Area Wildlife Manager, commented on the unusual aggression: “Cow elk with young calves are known to be aggressive, however we’ve never seen a year like this. All three attacks have been unprovoked and unfortunate accidents. We have no clear evidence to suggest these attacks were from the same animal, which underscores how uncommon the elk behavior has been.”

This attack follows two other incidents earlier this month:

June 4, 2024: A 4-year-old boy was attacked by a cow elk at a playground near Stanley Park. Two hidden elk calves prompted the elk to charge and stomp on the boy multiple times. The boy was treated and released from the hospital that evening. CPW responded by hazing the elk away from the area and closing the playground and parts of the Lake Estes Loop trail.

May 31, 2024: An 8-year-old girl was attacked while riding her bike in a neighborhood. The cow elk charged from approximately 60 yards away and stomped on the girl multiple times. The girl was treated at a nearby hospital and later released. A CPW officer hazed the aggressive elk and monitored the situation.

CPW is advising Estes Park residents and visitors to exercise increased caution while outdoors until the end of the elk calving season, which lasts from late spring through early summer. During this period, cow elk are known to aggressively defend their young against any perceived threats, including humans and pets.

Key safety measures include:

  • Keeping pets on-leash at all times.
  • Giving elk a wide berth and avoiding close encounters.
  • Respecting trail closures and warning signs about aggressive elk.
  • Avoiding the disturbance of young wildlife, even if they appear unattended.

While cow elk and cow moose exhibit heightened protective instincts during calving season, these attacks are rare and typically avoidable with proper precautions. CPW continues to monitor the situation and take necessary actions to ensure public safety.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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