Bull Elk Sparks Chaos After Charging at Crowd in Colorado Park: 'People Need to Maintain a Safe Distance'

A large bull elk was caught on camera charging at a crowd of people in Colorado this week, an attack that only ended after a public works employee leapt into action.

The shocking scene was witnessed on Thursday morning between 9 and 10 a.m. in Estes Park, which is the base camp for the wildlife-filled Rocky Mountain National Park. Local park officials said the elk are currently entering into their annual breeding season, known as a "rut."

Videos were uploaded to social media Thursday by park worker Brian Berg, who was able to halt an attack by driving his truck between the bull elk and a woman who was trying to defend herself from the ground.

The clips were filmed by Karen Harrison, who was visiting from Oklahoma with her husband Tim.

In the footage, the bull elk can be seen charging at a group of about eight people, who quickly dispersed. It runs at a man, who dives out of the way to avoid being hit. A woman was not as lucky, however. She was briefly dragged on the sidewalk by the elk's antlers.

In the second clip, Berg can be seen driving his Ford Ranger pickup into the area. The elk rammed the front of the vehicle with its antlers. "Rut in Estes, I should get a raise," he wrote on Facebook, posting an image of the damage. A large dent can be seen in the left side.

The incident happened close to the park's visitor center, according to local media outlet Fox 31. It reported the bull elk appeared to have been startled by the flash of a person's camera.

"I've never had to do that before, but I saw people in trouble and I figured I could get there quick," Berg told Fox 31, noting that bull elk typically needs more space during the 'rut' breeding season. "I knew the best thing for me to do at that point in time was to get the truck in between them."

Rut in Estes, I should get a raise...

Posted by Brian Berg on Thursday, September 26, 2019

The male who dived from the bull's antlers was later admitted to hospital after hitting his head on a rock, but his injuries were not believed to be serious, 9News reported.

Citing Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesperson Jason Clay, it reported the attack may have actually been sparked after a man and woman walked between two bulls that were facing off. This would have provoked the animal, he said, noting that nothing will happen to the elk involved.

"We are in the rut and bull elk will very aggressively defend their harems," the spokesperson told Fox 31. "Bull elk will fight over breeding rights. People need to maintain a safe distance from elk, even if they are at a building/facility/golf course or whatever human dwelling. Let the elk move away on their own, never ever get that close because something like this could happen."

This is me calling my boss and explaining that there are a couple new dents in the truck...

Posted by Brian Berg on Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Colorado wildlife agency says the breeding season begins in October and ends around late January. Elk stand at about 4–5 feet tall at the shoulder and mature bulls may exceed 1,000 pounds. "During the rut in the fall, deer and elk can become dangerously aggressive. Bucks and bulls may attack without provocation, so give them plenty of space," an online elk fact-sheet explains.

Bull elk
A bull elk bugles in a pasture meadow near the Madison River in Yellowstone National Park October 16, 2003 in Wyoming Bill Schaefer/Getty