Friday, June 30

Elk Safety: How to Stay Elk Alert during this calving season

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Jun 30, 2023

Elk Safety: How to Stay Elk Alert during this calving season

Elk Safety: How to Stay Elk Alert during this calving season


Just like mama bears, mama elk are fierce protectors when it comes to their babies. As we're in the midst of calving season (mid-May to early July), it's crucial to know your elk safety to avoid any unnecessary altercations. So, let's dive into the Banff Sunshine's DO'S and DONT'S of elk safety so that we can enjoy our Rocky Mountain playground safely.


1. DO pay Attention to Your Surroundings:


If you've ever played hockey, hearing the phrase "get your head up" should be familiar. Well, it applies here too.


As you wander elk territory (AKA all of Banff), you must be aware of your surroundings.


Avoid walking with both earbuds in— instead, keep one ear open to listen for any signs of wildlife nearby. Also, be sure to look up from your phone and scan the area as you walk.


2. DON'T be a Close-talker:


Elk value their personal space, just like we do. Remember, we must respect their boundaries— they are not like dogs. They dont want to get a pet, so please resist the temptation to get too close.


To enjoy observing them safely, maintain a distance of at least 30 meters (imagine three bus lengths).


3. DO stick together:


When exploring elk habitats, it's best to travel in groups. Stick together and keep an eye on everyone, especially children, who should stay within arm's reach. Elk will perceive a group of people as a larger animal and will be less inclined to stand up against you. 


If you are alone, don't be afraid to go out with a stylish walking stick or even an umbrella to use as a visual deterrent and appear bigger. Safety can be fashionable!


4. DON'T walk your dog off leash:

If you bring your four-legged friend along, be sure to always keep them on a leash and under control.


Elk may perceive dogs as potential predators, and we want to avoid any hoof-to-paw encounters.


5. DO give the mamas their space:

Be sure to avoid lone females and calves: Yeah, we know, the calves are adorable, but trust us, no photo is worth it.


Be mindful of lone female elk and their young ones. Stick to open areas instead of venturing into forested trails to avoid unexpected encounters. Allow the elk families to enjoy their natural environment without feeling threatened.


6. DON'T… honestly, just don't when it comes to rutting season (mid-August to mid-October).


When these animals begin getting romantic, it's best to let them do their thing in peace.


Be sure to avoid any situation where you will be around a male and female elk— they are territorial and can be very aggressive.


You don't wanna be there. They don't want you to be there. Enough said.



Unforeseen Elk Encounter:

In the rare case that you do find yourself face-to-face with an elk and there is no way to avoid this encounter, remain calm and follow these steps.


  • Act dominant by raising your arms or flapping a jacket to appear larger.


  • Maintain eye contact with the elk and slowly back away.


  • Seek protection behind a tree or vehicle, creating a barrier between you and the elk.


  • Don't try to play dead! Remember, contact encounters are rare. If you get knocked down, quickly get up and move away.


Our last tip: Carry bear spray. To be honest, you should always carry bear spray, as we co-exist with all sorts of beautiful but WILD animals in our rocky mountain paradise.


I guess what we at Banff Sunshine are trying to say it to just remember to be respectful, mindful, and elk alert during this calving season. Don't bug them, and they won't bug you!