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Bull elk unpredictable, dangerous during mating season

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A bull elk bugles during the 2015 rut in Mammoth Hot Springs. PHOTO BY NEAL HERBERT


MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. – Elk mating season, often referred to as the rut, has begun in Yellowstone National Park, prompting additional safety precautions for visitors.

The rut, which runs from September through mid-October in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, makes bull elk aggressive and unpredictable as they battle for attention from potential mates.

The park service advises park visitors stay alert during the rut as people have previously been severely injured by elk during this season. Elk may run quickly and change direction without warning, officials warn. As such, it is recommended that visitors maintain a minimum distance of 25 yards, or two school bus lengths, from elk.

If charged by an elk, the park advises visitors to quickly seek shelter inside a vehicle or behind a sturdy barrier. If shelter is not available, visitors should run away from the elk.

Visitors should never approach wildlife, but this warning is increasingly important with elk during the rut.

More guidelines for how to adventure safely in Yellowstone can be found here.

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