A couple in northern Colorado were recently sent fleeing into their home with their two dogs when a territorial female elk charged at them from across the street.
Because Estes Park is surrounded by the Rocky Mountain National Park, sightings of elk and wildlife are not uncommon in the town. But Ashley Marie Unger and Michael Blankenbecler, both 33, likely didn’t expect such a close encounter with one of the wild animals when they left for a walk with their dogs.
The cow elk, who had recently given birth, became aggressive after noticing the pooches, Unger told USA TODAY. Fortunately, the couple noticed the impending attack and were able to rush inside with the dogs in the nick of time.
“It happened so fast,” Unger said of the encounter, which occurred in June but was shared online this week.
Watch the terrifying moment.
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Footage shows the elk charge
Footage of the couple’s narrow escape was captured on their log cabin’s security camera, which initially shows them calmly walking across their lawn with their two dogs.
Unger said that she and Blankenbecler had only moments ago left their home to walk their two dogs – 3-year-old cattle dog Daisey and 7-year-old pit bull Gryff.
The couple was aware that an elk had days earlier given birth down the road – Unger even said she recorded it as the baby took its first steps – but they were unaware that the elk’s young had nestled under a bush across their street.
When they saw the adult elk, Unger said she and Blankenbecler began to walk in the opposite direction. But when the elk began to approach them, they instead took more drastic action.
In the video, the elk can be seen sauntering in the middle of the road toward the couple as they head back toward the cabin. As the couple keeps an eye on the wild animal, the elk picks up speed before running at a full charge toward them.
Thankfully, the pair and their dogs are able to duck inside and close the door before anyone is injured.
USA TODAY left a message Monday morning with Unger that was not immediately returned.
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Elk are common near Rocky Mountain National Park
Located 70 miles from Denver, Estes Park is surrounded by the Rocky Mountain National Park and Roosevelt National Forest.
The scenic landscape make the area not only a popular destination for outdoor recreation, but for sightings of wildlife. The protected lands offer a natural habitat to hundreds of animal species, including around 3,000 elk that forage in grassy meadows.
Fall and spring are the best times to see elk, but also can be dangerous because it is the mating and calving seasons, respectively. During these times, elk are known to be much more aggressive to defend their young.
Of course, Unger and Blankenbecler have largely grown accustomed to the constant presence of elk and other wild animals and do what they can to coexist with them.
“Living in Estes,” Unger said, “I live with my head on a swivel for wildlife.”
Eric Lagatta covers breaking and trending news for USA TODAY. Reach him at [email protected]