A bull elk has been caught on camera charging at a photographer after the eager cameraman made the mistake of getting too close to the wild animal during mating season.
The incident took place while elk rutting season was in full swing in Estes Park, Colorado on September 24.
The video shows a group of onlookers gathered around the bull elk, taking photos of the animal with their phones. The bull elk starts walking toward the scrum of photographers. But then the wild animal takes notice of a lone male photographer in the corner of his eye and seemingly becomes angry at the sight of him.
The bull elk turns toward the photographer who is taking pictures and charges toward him. The animal tries to headbutt the photographer but fortunately, the man manages to run away in time.
Megan Foster, who filmed the footage, tells Storyful that the photographer had been making a noise in an attempt to get a response from the animal.
“We were trying to get away from him, because we knew he was going to make one of them mad enough to hurt someone,” says Foster. “What you don’t see in the video is six other bulls that [the bull elk] was also trying to keep away from his herd. He was very stressed; he was drooling and peeing everywhere, trying to mark his territory.”
Foster says the man in the video is doing fine and added that she had to walk away because of how some tourists were acting around the elk.
“I couldn’t watch it anymore; it was very sad to see this animal go through this,” she recalls. “When we left a ranger was walking around the area and I went and told him. I don’t know what happened after that.”
According to Rocky Mountain National Park, fall rut, or mating season, is a popular viewing period for tourists as many elk spend time at lower elevations.
The National Park Service urges visitors to minimize any disturbance to the animals, warning tourists to “observe and photograph from a distance comfortable to the elk. If the elk move away or their attention is diverted you are too close!”
This is not the first a photographer has been involved in a close encounter with a bull elk. Petapixel previously reported on a photographer that was headbutted by a bull elk in Cataloochee Valley of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Meanwhile, a bull elk charged into a tourist in a Canadian national park when the man got a little close while he was photographing the animal.