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CPW investigating 'unprecedented' third cow elk attack in Estes Park

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Posted at 4:47 PM, Jun 07, 2024

ESTES PARK, Colo. — Colorado Parks and Wildlife is investigating an "unprecedented" third cow elk attack in Estes Park.

A woman was walking her dog on a leash Friday morning near South St Vrain Avenue and Stanley Avenue when she "startled a cow elk from about 20 yards away." CPW said the woman tried to run behind a tree for safety, but the animal knocked her to the ground and then stomped and kicked her several times.

CPW said the woman is seeking medical treatment.

A calf was later spotted nearby. 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.

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

This is the third cow elk attack in Estes Park in eight days. An 8-year-old girl was attacked by a cow elk on May 30 while riding her bike in a neighborhood. Four days later, a 4-year-old boy was attacked by a cow elk at an Estes Park playground.

“Cow elk with young calves are known to be aggressive, however, we’ve never seen a year like this,” said Jason Duetsch, CPW Area Wildlife Manager, in a statement. “All three attacks have been unprovoked and unfortunate accidents. We have no clear evidence to suggest these attacks were from the same animal, which underscores how uncommon the elk behavior has been.”

The playground where the boy was attacked 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 across the town.

CPW aggressive elk sign

Cow elk can display aggression towards people and pets during calving season in order to protect their calves. Calving season for the state's elk population lasts from late spring through early summer, according to CPW.

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




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