Wild animal close encounters increase in Colo.

10:51 PM, Sep 24, 2012   |    comments
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Some folks in Denver stopped to take pictures of an adult male elk near Hampden and Sheridan Monday afternoon.

The elk then made its way to the nearby Fort Logan cemetery.

Many people are excited to see these animals but getting too close is dangerous, according to Colorado Department of Wildlife spokesperson Jennifer Churchill.

"These animals are not tame. They do have antlers and they will do damage," Churchill said. "They will injure you."

Many 9NEWS viewers have asked on Facebook if more elk are coming into populated areas looking for food because of the drought.

Churchill says they're not looking for food; they're looking for a mate. This is the elk rutting season and their behavior is more aggressive.

The rule of thumb, if you're close enough to change the animal's behavior, even if it looks up at you or moves away, you're too close.

The Colorado Department of Wildlife says animal sightings are more common this time of year and drivers can also expect more animals on the road.

Collisions increase during the early fall so drivers need to slow down and pay attention.

Because it's mating season, elk have one thing on their mind, which means they're not paying attention to humans or cars.

"I wasn't expecting to see an elk at Fort Logan I have to say. It's just kind of an oddity," Sharon Marabella said.

Marabella came to the cemetery to visit her husband's grave and spotted the adult male bull elk, estimated at 700 pounds.

"He's big. I noticed he was pretty shaggy," Marabella said. "I know you should be cautious of them they're big animals with antlers."

Sky9 was over Hampden and Sheridan as people got out of their cars to get a glimpse of the elk.

Some took pictures with their kids just a few feet away, a dangerous move according to Churchill.

Alice Jackson-Bush stayed in her car.

"I was afraid that either the people would get hurt or they would chase him in front of a car," Jackson-Bush said. "He looked pretty scared when people were chasing him. That's pretty dangerous to chase a bull elk."

In March, an elk attacked and trampled a 60 year-old woman in Estes Park when she got too close.

Last month, a bison charged a young boy at Yellowstone National Park. The boy is okay, but in the video, you can hear adults laughing and egging on the group of kids to get closer.

Two weeks ago, on September 11, an elk was spotted at Quincy near Sheridan.

Close encounters with wildlife are a part of life in Colorado, but you need to enjoy the view carefully.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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