Heard of elk on the prairie

CPW investigating third cow elk attack in Estes Park

 Courtesy USFWS/Ryan Moehring.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is investigating an unprecedented third cow elk attack in Estes Park early Friday morning. The attack follows two others, including one last Saturday in which an 8-year-old girl received treatment for injuries.

Outdoors - Colorado Parks Wildlife Mountains Baca National Wildlife Refuge - USFWS

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

The victim, an adult woman, was walking a dog on-leash near South St Vrain Avenue and Stanley Avenue when she startled a cow elk from about 20 yards away. The woman tried to run behind a tree for safety, but the elk knocked her to the ground, stomping and kicking her several times. She is seeking medical treatment. The cow’s calf was later spotted nearby.

“Cow elk with young calves are known to be aggressive, however we’ve never seen a year like this,” said Jason Duetsch, CPW Area Wildlife Manager. “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.”

CPW is warning Estes Park residents and visitors to be extra cautious while outdoors until elk calving season ends. Late spring through early summer is considered calving season for elk and moose. Cow elk will commonly charge and chase any perceived threats to their newborns. Please give elk a wide berth to avoid conflicts. Pets should be kept on-leash at all times as cow elk can be especially aggressive towards dogs.

Cow elk and cow moose have heightened protective instincts while their newborns are unable to move on their own. Always leave young wildlife alone. While a calf may be unattended, the cow is most likely nearby gathering food.