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Elk attacks 2 women in Estes Park as rut season begins

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Posted at 4:48 PM, Sep 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-20 18:48:42-04

ESTES PARK, Colo. – Colorado wildlife officials had to put down an elk with a history of aggressive behavior after it attacked two women on two separate occasions in Estes Park last week. Both women were injured and later released from the hospital.

Last week’s incidents serve as a reminder to residents living near elk populations that rut season -- also known as mating season -- has begun and aggressive behavior is common during this time, wildlife officials said.

The elk rut usually begins in the fall from mid-September through mid-October, sometimes lasting through November.

The bull elk will move to lower elevations so they can move in among a group of female elk -- called cows -- and calves, called a harem.

Harems are usually smaller than the large cow/calf herds of summer. It also lacks male yearlings because they are often driven off by the mature bulls.

Mature bulls will fight in order to find a female mate. They will bugle and rub trees, shrubs and the ground with their antlers to intimidate other bulls and attract cows. They also wallow in mud to coat themselves with urine “perfume” to attract cows. 

Bulls will aggressively guard their harems from other bulls, sometimes fighting to the death.