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CPW investigating cow elk attack on girl in Estes Park

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is investigating a cow elk attack on an 8-year-old girl in Estes Park Thursday afternoon. Family members reported the girl was riding her bike in a neighborhood around 1:00 p.m. when the female elk started charging the girl from approximately 60 yards away. The elk caught up to the victim and stomped on her multiple times. The girl was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and released later that day.

PROMO 660 x 440 Animal - Bull elk - USFWS

A wildlife officer responded to the attack area and found a cow elk and young calf. The elk became aggressive towards the officer. The officer hazed the elk by firing a non-lethal bean bag round and the elk’s aggressive behavior dissipated. The officer stayed on scene to monitor the situation for several hours. Friday, the officer returned to transport the calf to the CPW Health Lab where veterinarians and wildlife specialists will care for the newborn.

Officers will haze cow elk in the area as necessary to discourage interactions with neighbors. Signs warning of aggressive elk behavior have been placed in the area. Pets should be on-leash at all times to avoid conflicts with cow elk.

“This is an unusual and unfortunate situation where a young girl was playing outside, far from the calf, and a cow elk became aggressive to protect her newborn,” said Jason Duetsch, Area Wildlife Manager for CPW. “While it is a natural reaction for cow elk to be very defensive during calving season, it is not often they hurt someone, especially a child. We’re happy the girl is recovering from her injuries and wish her continued healing.”

Late spring through early summer is considered calving season for Colorado’s elk population. During this time, cow elk can display aggression towards people and pets to protect their calves from perceived threats. Conflicts are common with cow elk and cow moose when they have young nearby, and conflicts increase until their young can stand and move around on their own. Always leave young wildlife alone, especially during calving season. It is not unusual to find calves and fawns alone, as the mother may temporarily leave the calf to find food.