This huge elk was calmly having his dinner in the grass along the highway just outside Jasper on Wednesday evening. We were forced to come to a complete stop as people ran across the road to get closer to it for a photo op. As we slowly made our way through the traffic jam, Park Canada employees were telling tourists to please return to their vehicle. 

Parks Canada recently sent out a notice reminding people that it is rutting season and elk are especially unpredictable at this time.

From late August to mid-October, Jasper National Park is noisy with the bugling calls of bull elk, which sound like a high-pitched roar followed by low coughs or grunts. During the rutting (mating) season, elk form groups called harems, with one dominant bull elk and many females. Bulls become extremely aggressive as they are protecting their harems from other males.

Parks Canada regulations require a distance of at least 30 meters away for viewing elk. Photograph the animal in its natural environment or use a telephoto lens rather than moving closer to the animal. Do not follow elk into the bush, nor try enticing them with food or by simulating animal calls. While it might be tempting, taking a selfie with wildlife is dangerous; never put people (especially children) at risk by posing them with wildlife. /ANDREA ARNOLD

How to avoid a negative elk encounter

Stay 30 metres (three bus lengths) away from all elk.

Travel in groups and keep everyone together; children should be within arm’s reach. Carry pepper spray and consider a visual deterrent like a walking stick or umbrella.

Dogs must be on leash and under control. Elk view dogs as potential predators and may charge or attack them. Consider leaving your dog at home.

Never stand, walk, drive, or park your car between a male and the females.