Elk Rut

Elk Miette River-Bull elk walks in river
Elk Miette River-Bull elk walks in river
Parks Canada-kevin gedling photo

The chance to observe wild animals as they go about their natural lives is one of the most fascinating experiences that our mountain national parks have to offer. Along with this opportunity, however, comes the responsibility to treat wild animals with the respect they deserve, and need to survive.

Though they might not appear threatening, elk can be aggressive and attack without warning.  During the fall mating season from now through mid-October, male elk are particularly belligerent.  

To minimize the potential of incidents with a bull elk, you should:

  • Keep at least 30 metres away from all elk and never get between a male and the females. Bull elk become extremely aggressive protecting their harems during the mating season.
  • Do not park your vehicle between a male and the females; elk may charge at your vehicle, which may result in damage.
  • Keep your dog on leash at all times. An unleashed dog may prompt an elk to become aggressive as they view the dog as a predator (wolf or coyote).
  • Watch for elk at all times and detour around them.
  • If possible, walk around elk on the high side of a slope or up-hill.
  • Carry pepper spray, a walking stick or an umbrella as protection.

In case of an encounter with an elk, you should:

    Act dominant if an elk gets too close.

    Raise your arms or any big object (jacket or umbrella) to make yourself appear larger, maintain eye contact, and never turn your back or run. Climb a tree or keep an object, like a tree or large rock, between you and the elk. Back slowly out of the area. Warn other hikers of an elk ahead and report the incident immediately to Jasper Dispatch at 780-852-6155.

    If you are knocked down or fall, get up and try to move to cover or use an object to protect yourself.

    DO NOT PLAY DEAD.