Estes Park elk attack prompts warnings

5:44 PM, May 30, 2012   |    comments
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Robin Pattishall is now in fair condition at the hospital after being attacked on Tuesday. Officials say she did nothing wrong.

"The woman was face down on the ground," Kris Hazelton said, who works for the Estes Park News.

Hazelton spoke with Pattishall just after the attack. She says Pattishall was on her way to a chiropractor appointment and had no idea the elk was with her calf.

"Elk knocked her down, face down, and just started hitting her with its hooves, and the back of her head, and she just said it kept repeatedly hitting her, and wouldn't stop," Hazelton said.

For the next few weeks, wildlife officials say elk are in calving season. That means they are very aggressive as they protect their young.

On Wednesday, roughly a dozen elk could be seen lounging along the fairway of a local golf course. Some could be spotted walking around Estes Park streets. Golfers didn't seem fazed by their presence.

"We always have these elk, sometimes there are 80 of 'em," golfer Wally Conrad said.

Still, he and those golfing with him acknowledge that it's not uncommon to be chased by a cow protecting its calf. That's when it is time to back away, he says.

"Many times in bushes, on the edge of houses, and you're not expecting that," Estes Park police chief Wes Kufeld said.

Kufeld says it's important to keep a safe distance from elk, especially during this time of year and in the fall when elk are mating. If you change the elk's behavior, you are too close.

It's also important to not block traffic just to snap a photo and to respect private property when viewing elk.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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