Rita Valentine Park trails closed because of aggressive cow elk | SteamboatToday.com

Rita Valentine Park trails closed because of aggressive cow elk

Scott Franz

— The city of Steamboat Springs has closed some trails in Rita Valentine Park to keep people away from a cow elk that has been aggressively protecting her calves in the area.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager Jim Haskins said the elk, which gave birth to calves in the park Sunday night, has charged at people and dogs who have gotten too close to the animal and her young.

“The bottom line is under the right circumstances, the elk has been acting very aggressive, and I’m also concerned about kids on bikes,” Haskins said.

At the recommendation of Parks and Wildlife, city officials agreed Tuesday to close the trails near the elk until the animal has left the area.

“I’m hopeful that by tonight or tomorrow morning, she’ll have moved those calves out of there,” Haskins said.

Haskins said the incidents with the elk have occurred on a section of trail that starts off of Longview Circle and continues near Hilltop Parkway.

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Signs now mark the trail closures, and those who disobey the closures to go and seek out the elk could be ticketed by wildlife officers for harassing wildlife.

Officials discourage people from going to try and see the elk because it has been acting so aggressively to protect her young, even charging at people.

Haskins said the most serious incident occurred last night when the elk got into an altercation with a dog that got too close.

“The cow elk did a tap dance on it,” Haskins said.

He was unsure of the dog’s injuries.

He added that the elk also has charged at people.

All of Rita Valentine Park is an off leash dog park, but dogs still are required to be under sight and voice command at all times.

Haskins said he watched many people and dogs walk right by the elk Monday evening without realizing it was even there and without incident.

But some dogs who ventured a little ways off the trail and into the brush have provoked the elk.

Haskins said this is the first incident in a city park like this that he has heard of here in Steamboat.

He said after calving, an elk will usually stay to herself with the calves for a short period of time before looking to gather with other elk.

“We’re hoping the whole thing settles down soon,” Haskins said. “She could be there a few days before she feels comfortable moving those calves.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10