Elk can do a lot of damage during rutting season. Here’s how to keep safe.

A Parks Canada truck is seen damaged after it was rammed by a charging elk in Jasper National Park.
A Parks Canada truck is seen damaged after it was rammed by a charging elk in Jasper National Park. Parks Canada

It’s elk rutting season once again. So what does that mean for visitors to Alberta’s national parks?

A recent post by Jasper National Park on Facebook aims to get the message across loud and clear: be careful.

The post features a photo of a Parks Canada staff truck with four large puncture holes in the side — two in the rear passenger door and two in the back of the truck — made by none other than an angry, charging elk.

READ MORE: Bear warning in effect for Kananaskis after multiple animals spotted

According to the post, the truck was hit while sitting at a traffic light on the weekend. No one was hurt in the incident.

“Elk are extremely dangerous this time of year,” Jasper National Park said.

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“Be sure to stay in your car and stay a safe distance from wild animals.”

Parks Canada advises keeping about 30 metres between you and an elk and say never to get between a male and females in the area.

Officials also issued a warning regarding elk rutting season in August, saying the animals’ aggressive period would last until mid-October.

“Bull elk become extremely aggressive protecting their harems during the mating season,” Banff National Park said.

“Do not park your vehicle between a male and the females; elk may charge your vehicle which may result in damage.”

The parks give the following tips for avoiding and handling an encounter with an elk:

  • Travel in a group
  • Watch for elk at all times and detour around them
  • If possible, walk around elk on the high side of a slope or uphill
  • Stay back at least 30 metres
  • Keep your dog on a 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)
  • Carry pepper spray, a walking stick or an umbrella as protection
  • 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 Parks Canada dispatch at 403-762-1470
  • If you are knocked down or fall, get up and try to move to cover or use an object to protect yourself