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Steer clear of elk during rutting season, wildlife experts caution

Wildlife experts in Canmore and Banff are reminding locals and visitors to be extra careful around elk this time of year, as rutting season has come again.

'The males are very full of testosterone'

In this 2006 file photo, a bull elk keeps a watchful eye on a herd of cow elk in Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, Colo. (David Zalubowski/Canadian Press/AP)

Wildlife experts in Canmore and Banff are reminding locals and visitors to be extra wary of elk this time of year, as rutting season has come again.

Banff National Park's resource conservation manager, Bill Hunt, says the bulls can get very aggressive as they work to gather a harem during the annual breeding season.

"The males are very full of testosterone, their whole mind is fixated on guarding and protecting females and keeping other males away," Hunt said.

Hunt suggests staying at least 30 metres away from the elk.

And while there haven't been any cases where people have been attacked by elk in Banff so far this season, park officials say they're still seeing people getting too close.

"They are thousand-pound animals with a big, pointy rack on their head. You don't want to be competing with these guys. You're not going to win the game," said Jay Honeyman, a human wildlife conflict biologist with Alberta Environment and Parks.

It's also vital to keep dogs on a leash, according to WildSmart program director Nick de Ruyter.

"Pretty much anything other than a female elk is a threat to them, whether it's adults or children or dogs or other wildlife, maybe even a car or a bike," he said.

De Ruyter says if an elk does charge, try to get yourself behind a large, immovable object like a car, tree, rock or building.