An elk cow chased two dogs and their owner recently while they were at the dog off-leash park at Elk Meadow Open Space. Because of the incident, the Waggin Trail of the park was closed for one day, said Jeffco Open Space Ranger Jason Hamburg.
“The elk was doing what elks do,” Hamburg said. The elk was probably protecting her calf from the canines, he explained.
Although normally fairly docile, elk can be on the aggressive side in the spring and fall, Hamburg said. Calving season is in the spring and summer, and fall is rutting time for the bulls.
When an elk cow sees a dog, she thinks it is a wolf or coyote, Hamburg said.
“To them, a canine is a canine,” he said. “They’ll get that look in their eyes.”
The dogs that the elk chased at the park on June 14 were two good-sized huskies, he noted.
The strange weather patterns have contributed to erratic behavior in wildlife, Hamburg said. The heavy snow in February followed by drought and unusually hot weather has affected baby animal season this year.
“This entire weather has thrown things into an odd shift,” said Hamburg. Consequently, the wildlife are acting a little strange.
If a person encounters an elk moving toward him in an aggressive manner, talking to the animal can help, said Hamburg.