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4-year-old boy attacked by cow elk at Estes Park playground

This is the second elk attack in Estes Park in four days. An 8-year-old girl was attacked by a cow elk while riding her bike in a neighborhood.
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Posted at 1:30 PM, Jun 05, 2024

ESTES PARK, Colo. — A 4-year-old boy was attacked by a cow elk at an Estes Park playground Monday afternoon, marking the second elk attack in less than a week.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) said two elk calves were hidden in a rock area at the playground near Stanley Park, unbeknownst to families. According to the agency, the boy was playing around 1:30 p.m. when a cow elk "suddenly charged and stomped on him multiple times." A family member scared off the animal, and the boy was taken to the hospital. He was released Monday evening, CPW said.

A CPW officer responded to the playground and found multiple cow elk in the area, according to the agency. The officer hazed the animals using non-lethal bean bag rounds to get them to leave the park. CPW said the elk have moved to another location.

The playground is closed indefinitely, according to CPW. Parts of the Lake Estes Loop trail are also closed, the agency said. CPW has placed signs warning of aggressive cow elk in the area.

CPW aggressive elk sign

This is the second elk attack in Estes Park in four days. An 8-year-old girl was attacked by a cow elk Thursday while riding her bike in a neighborhood. She was taken to a hospital and released that same day.

Calving season for the state's elk population lasts from late spring through early summer. Cow elk can display aggression towards people and pets during this time to protect their calves.

According to CPW, conflicts are common with cow elk and cow moose if their young are nearby. These conflicts increase once their young can stand and move around on their own, the agency said.

CPW urges Coloradans and visitors to leave young wildlife alone, especially during calving season.