Seriously, Stop Petting the Wildlife

By author of The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Video shows Colorado woman trying to touch a large bull elk outside of grocery store

Here we go again. Another person has put her life at risk by treating a large, wild animal as if it's a friendly pet. Fortunately the woman, who was filmed petting a large 6x6 bull elk in Colorado's Estes Park, was able to walk away unharmed. But wildlife officials say the outcome could have been much different. In fact, I've written about elk attacking people in Estes Park on several ocassions. 

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are warning people to not feed or pet wildlife after a video posted on the Elk in Estes Park Facebook page on Christmas day showed a woman reaching her hand out to pet the bull. 

According to Fox 21 News, the incident happened outside the Country Super Market in Estes Park.

“It’s absolutely inappropriate to feed them or try to pet them,” said Scott Webermeier, owner of the super market. “They’re gorgeous animals and at a distance something to admire, but not the pony across the street by any means."

Webermeier said he has to warn visitors on a regular basis not to get too close to the elk, which tends to hang around the market.

“I don’t think some of our guests realize that those antlers are a load, and they’re pretty pointy!” he said.

After seeing the video, Colorado Parks & Wildlife's Jason Clay issued a warning statement to visitors and reminder to residents:

“Feeding or petting wildlife can be very dangerous. It can cause bigger problems down the road, and in the case of big game wildlife like elk, it is against the law. When wildlife is fed, they become habituated to people and in turn begin to expect food when they see humans. That level of habituation can lead to dangerous encounters."

Speaking of dangerous encounters, I wrote about a bull elk attacking a woman in Estes Park just a couple months ago. Two years ago, an elk had to be shot after it gored two women in separate instances in the park. 

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