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Wildlife Officials Issue Warning After Elk Attacks Woman In Estes Park

ESTES PARK, Colo. (CBS4) - Part of a park may soon be off limits because of aggressive elk after an elk trampled a woman in Estes Park on Tuesday.

Robin Pattishall apparently stood between a cow elk and her calf outside her apartment on Community Drive. Her condition is improving, however she remained hospitalized on Wednesday.

Colorado is considered the best place in North America to find elk. The entire area west of Interstate 25 in Estes Park is some of the best elk habitat. On Wednesday wildlife managers issued a warning across the region to give elk their space.

Teresa Binstock watched as an elk attacked her neighbor.

"The mother elk was over Robin punching with the mother elk's front hooves," Binstock said.

Estes Park police say the elk that trampled Pattishall had a calf nearby. Wildlife officials say that makes sense.

(credit: CBS)

"This elk obviously felt threatened and did what she thought she had to do," Jennifer Churchill with Colorado Parks & Wildlife said.

It's currently calving season for elk. The animals are finding safe places to rest, feed, and care for their newborns. For the next three weeks elk could be extremely aggressive.

"They're filled with hormones. They're doing different behaviors in order to get their young out on the ground and move on to the next year," Churchill said.

A golf course in Estes Park is a hot spot for elk. Police are considering shutting down part of the course.

"We need to have a very clear line between us and wildlife for their safety and for ours," Churchill said.

Elk attacks are rare. The last recorded incident in Estes Park happened eight years ago. Pattishall is now in fair condition. Her neighbor says the attack was terrifying.

"She was still conscience. She wasn't trying to move. I think she realized she had taken a good whipping," Binstock said.

Wildlife officials say now is just the first of two times in the year when elk act aggressively. The other comes in the fall around hunting season.

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