Officials with Parks Canada announced that two bull elk in Canada’s Banff National Park have been put down after two separate charging incidents during the last week of August.

While typically not a threat to humans for much of the year, bull elk can get awfully territorial this time of year as these large animals engage in rutting behavior.  During the breeding season or rut, bull elk set out to gather potential mates and often become overly protective of any cows in their area.

As such, in areas such as National Parks, the risk for human contact elevates either resulting in close quarter contact with these animals or flat out altercations.  During the last weekend of August, this is exactly what happened in Banff National Park according to resource conservation manager Bill Hunt with Parks Canada.

He told CBC News that on August 23rd and August 25th, his unit received two separate reports of aggressive elk in what he termed as “contact incidents.”

“In cases like that, these animals become candidates for destruction,” Hunt said, adding that there is a culling of elk in Banff National Park every year to ensure a “healthy population.”

As Hunt and his team and many others like it work diligently to keep elk out of populated areas this time of year, he reiterates the importance of giving these animals the space they require during this sensitive time of year.

“The bulls get very aggressive, they get very territorial, they’re defending their cows,” Hunt said. “So it’s important for visitors to keep a head up and really give those elk a lot of room.”

Parks Canada officials recommend visitors keep a distance of at least 30 meters from the animals and recommend the use of bear spray for bulls that get within 10 meters of any human.