Yellowstone National Park (ID,MT,WY)
Visitor Gored by Bull Elk
A park visitor who approached a bull elk too closely this past weekend was gored by the animal. The incident happened on Sunday morning near the Terrace Grill in Mammoth Hot Springs. A 60-year old man from Texas walked to within ten feet of the elk. He took a flash photograph of the animal, then turned his back on the bull and began to walk away. The startled bull put his head down and charged the visitor, who turned back toward the elk just in time to be struck head on by the antlers. He received some cuts and bruises to his head, hands and chest. A park employee charged by the same bull while leaving a building Sunday evening was bruised and strained some muscles. The elk also damaged six cars in the Mammoth Hot Springs area Sunday, adding to the six he had previously attacked. Total damage to the vehicles caused by this one bull elk has been estimated at $12,000 to $15,000. Because this overly aggressive bull was threatening the health and safety of visitors and employees, park managers decided to tranquilize the animal and remove his antlers. Transporting the animal to a distant location was ruled out because over-stressed animals can choke to death on regurgitated food. Even when successfully relocated, past history has shown elk shortly return to their original location. Elk congregate at Mammoth Hot Springs and many other developed areas in the park at during the fall mating season. The large, muscular bulls bugle and display their massive antlers to intimidate other bulls and impress herds of cow elk. Despite their often-docile appearance, elk are unpredictable, wild animals. They can run much faster than people can. Both cows and bulls can be very excitable and dangerous at this time of year. Sharpened tines on the large antlers of mature bulls are very effective weapons when wielded by animals weighing an average of 700 pounds. They may mock fight with trees or vehicles, spar with other rivals, or chase unsuspecting visitors who stray too closely.