Wildlife experts warn about friendly elk in Vail

VAIL - Loving something too much is causing concern in Vail, where an elk is walking right up to cars and people.

That might seem like a good thing for elk lovers, but Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers are concerned.

"People think they are being nice to it but in essence they are issuing a death sentence to it, because if it hurts someone we have to put it down," wildlife officer Perry Will told 9NEWS.

Will says it's obvious people are feeding the animal, which could be causing it to lose its natural fear of people.

Dave Brown and his dog Tucker spotted the elk on their way up to a hike in the mountains.

"You see them out and about but very seldom do you see them in the middle of the road. He's just saying put, staring at us," Brown told 9NEWS.

Will and other wildlife experts are urging people to avoid the elk so it will go back into the back country and away from people. The animal appears to be healthy, but large animals like elk and moose are unpredictable and should be avoided.

The elk has been drawing crowds around east Vail, but 9NEWS isn't providing the precise locations where it's been spotted to avoid adding to any sightseeing efforts.

Some people have taken pictures standing next to the elk, and some have even given it a hug.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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