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VALLEY PARK, Mo. _Two people were injured recently by elk at a park in west St. Louis County. Lone Elk Park near Interstate 44 and Valley Park is a popular place for people and photographers to visit because the elk roam free within the park and visitors can see them up close. Now, park officials are warning people to not get too close.

According to Lone Elk Park officials, they usually get one report each year of someone being injured by an elk. Our partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch report two women have been injured since Sept. 30.

Nature photographer Kent Burgess captured a photo of a group approaching a bull elk Sunday (Oct. 8). Burgess witnessed the group walking among a herd of elk, and it appeared they were trying to take selfies with the animals.

Burgess said he could hear the bull making a distinct warning sound, and he yelled to the group to warn them of the potential danger. Minutes later, a woman was injured by the elk when its antlers connected with her arm, Burgess told the Post.

Lone Elk Park officials report another woman was injured on Sept. 30 when she too got too close to a bull and was gored in the lower back.

It’s especially dangerous to approach the animals this time of year, park officials said, because it’s mating season which lasts from about mid-August into December. Posted signs at the park instruct visitors to stay 100 feet away from the animals.

If a visitor to the park comes across an elk or bison, park officials say they should turn around or cut a wide path around the animal. Officials said people should back away and take cover behind a tree or a car.

People who get too close to the animals may be cited for trespassing or wildlife harassment.

Park officials are considering adding extra patrols after these incidents.