Parks Canada says two bull elk in Banff National Park have been killed after they posed a threat to visitors in the townsite.

Bill Hunt, resource conservation manager with Parks Canada's Banff field unit, said visitors had two separate "contact incidents" with two different elk in August, one on the 23rd and another on the 25th.

Hunt said no injuries were reported in either incident but the elks' brazen behaviour was cause for concern.

"In cases like that, these animals become candidates for destruction," Hunt said, adding that there is a culling of elk in Banff National Park every year to ensure a "healthy population."


Parks Canada says two bull elk in Banff National Park have been destroyed following two 'contact incidents' with park visitors in August. (David Zalubowski/Associated Press file photo)

Hunt said Parks Canada staff work to chase elk away from town every morning because the animals use the townsite as cover from predators.

'Bulls get very aggressive'

Hunt said it is important for park guests to know the seasonal risks surrounding elk.

While spring is calving season and females become more aggressive, Hunt said fall is mating season and bull elk need to be given a wide berth.

"The bulls get very aggressive, they get very territorial, they're defending their cows," Hunt said. "So it's important for visitors to keep a head up and really give those elk a lot of room."

He said bull elk will throw their chins up in the air when they feel threatened or if someone is getting too close for comfort.

Other warning signs that an elk is about to charge include head bobbing and pawing at the ground, said Hunt.

Visitors should stay at least 30 metres away from elk and Hunt recommends using bear spray if the animal gets within 10 metres.

With files from Dan McGarvey