Alberta Fish and Wildlife is cautioning people of protective elk during calving season.

From the middle of May until early July, elk have a higher chance of acting defensively, especially while roaming with their young.

Hikers and park-goers are warned to travel in groups and stay at least 30 metres away during this time.

People are advised to watch for warning signs such as raised rump hair, grinding teeth, flattened ears and curled lips.

Other animals can also cause the mother elk to be more aggressive, and it’s advised that owners keep their pets leashed, or avoid bringing them into calving areas altogether.

It’s also recommended that people carry pepper spray for protection.

If confronted, travellers should never turn their back to get away. Instead, it's recommended that people stand their ground, maintain eye contact, and make themselves as big as possible while backing away slowly from the area.

Those who are attacked and knocked down should immediately try to get up and not attempt to play dead.

Elk charges in Canmore

The warning from Fish and Wildlife comes after an incident earlier this week that involved an elk charging a woman and her dog in the Rundle area of Canmore.

The elk, traveling with its calf, charged the woman to within her arms reach.  As she walked away, the elk followed the woman for a distance before eventually leaving.

Moose more common near Edmonton

In a statement to CTV News Edmonton, officer Dana Brand noted that while elk aren’t typically in the region, a cow moose protecting its young can also be a risk to public safety.

"Always keep your distance from any wildlife, even if they appear calm or friendly," Brand said.

If encountering a moose, the public is asked not to try and scare the moose off, but to wait for the moose to leave on its own. If the moose charges, run away and try to find a car, tree or building to hide behind.


Trail in Jasper partially closed 

Lac Beauvert Loop in Jasper is partially closed due to elk calving season. People are encouraged to report all elk encounters to Parks Canada at 780-852-6155.

Those who find moose or other wildlife posing a risk to the public safety or having difficulty returning to the wild can call Fish and Wildlife at 310-0000, or if outside business hours, contact Report a Poacher at 1-800-642-3800.