Elk target tourists

  It's time to watch your step in Yellowstone National Park. Aggressive herds of rutting elk have taken over park headquarters at Mammoth Hot Springs, as they do every year at this time, and two women tourists narrowly escaped injury at the hands - make that horns - of sexually aroused bulls.

The first incident occurred Sept. 18, when a German woman stopped her car within a few feet of a bull and got out. The animal then turned on her and attacked with his antlers, pinning her against the car with one antler on either side of her, park spokeswoman Marsha Karle said. The woman suffered only a slight bruise to one wrist, said ranger Mona Divine.

The second incident occurred Sept. 29, when a California woman went for an after-dinner stroll. In the dark she accidentally came between a bull and his harem of cows. The bull charged, the woman climbed a wooden fence and found even more trouble: On the other side of the fence was a sinkhole created by a collapsed hot pool. The woman fell in the hole and had to be rescued by rangers using a winch. An ambulance took her to a hospital in Livingston, Mont., where she was treated and released.

The Park Service is asking people to give elk an especially wide berth. "It's that time of year," Karle said. "Here we go again."

* Scott McMillion
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