VIDEO – Elk Spars with Photographer in the Smoky Mountains
This video of a young bull elk “sparring” with a photographer was captured in November 2013 in the Cataloochee Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The photographer was snapping photos along the roadside when this elk took an interest in him and approached him. Elk can charge at a rate of 45mph and can be lethal, so the photographer hunkered down hoping the bull elk would lose interest. What happened next turned from “playful sparring” and escalated from there. Check out the video below to see what happened!
Photos of the Elk by the Photographer
The photographer was James York from North Carolina and his full photography portfolio can be found on the Fine Art America website. He managed to capture the following unbelievable images during the encounter with the elk and posted them on the FineArtAmerica.com!
Fortunately nobody was hurt in this instance of Elk vs Photographer as this was a potentially very dangerous situation. During the fall, bull elk begin their rut and become more aggressive. It is not suggested at all to approach them as they are looking to show dominance over just about anything that moves.
This also goes for deer…especially in Cades Cove. We see numerous visitors attempting to approach deer for pictures or to just see how close they can get. Please know this can be extremely dangerous as these animals are unpredictable and very protective…of themselves…of their young…and their mates.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park spokesperson Dana Soehn provided the following advice:
“In that situation, we recommend to people is that they would slowly stand up, back away, and create that safe space and distance from themselves and the animal.” Dana Soehn – Great Smoky Mountains National Park spokesperson
UPDATE – Elk Euthanized on Friday November 15, 2013
Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials confirmed Friday to WBIR TV out of Knoxville that the elk had shown more aggressive tendencies toward humans and the decision was made to euthanize the elk as it “could not be re-trained to be fearful of humans” and “the elk had been coming back to that area in search of food, and had begun associating humans with food.” This is the first elk that has been euthanized in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park since the first 25 elk were reintroduced to the park in 2001.
What Would You Do?
We want to know…what would you do if an elk approached you? Let us know in the comments section below!
Mark SmithNovember 14, 2013 at 9:01 pm
If you’re dumb enough to get out of your vehicle in order to get closer to an elk or any other large animal than you better know how fast that animal can charge, distance back to your vehicle, how fast you can run, and a multitude of other factors. If you don’t know the answers to all the obvious questions, you probably don’t know the answers to some of the more difficult ones and you definitely should not have children because they will probably be as stupid as you are. Cataloochee and Cades Cove are two places in the GSM where you can see people who are dumber than the animals they go to see; and how about the guy shooting the video and the people in the car ahead with the lights on never thought to help this guy out just to keep taking pictures.
VickieNovember 14, 2013 at 11:59 pm
I personally was hoping there toward the end, the elk would throw the equipment out into the road and break it. It would have served this guy right. What an stupid maneuver. These are wild animals with unpredictable behavior. Seriously, use some common sense. You are invading their territory. How would this guy like it if this elk would coming wandering into his home. Just like the people in Gatlinburg who recently tried to corner a young bear who wandered into the Gatlinburg Convention Center area. One of these days, their luck will run out and there will be a tragedy occur in that area
JhNovember 17, 2013 at 8:53 am
AMEN Vickie, well said!
NATALIE HELTONNovember 15, 2013 at 12:11 pm
Ok my heart was racing the entire video thinking get out of there dude! Yeah dumb move on that guys part. At least share some of those great photos from that encounter!! Tell me it was worth it! I feel bad for other people that now run into this elk, it seems like he has no fear with being right next to people, and next time it may not go so smoothly!
JeffNovember 16, 2013 at 1:56 pm
Back in the 80’s, I and two friend’s of mine were in Yellowstone National Park. We too got out of our car and walked up to a large circle of about 40 people or more who had surrounded to bull elk laying down in the tall grass. The elk still had their felt on their very large antlers. We were all so close to these majestic animals that any one of us could have easily reached out and petted these elk just laying there calm and peaceful like. I’d be willing to bet my bottom nickle that the ranger service did not have to kill these two elk!! I have mixed thoughts about the whole thing really, I guess I can see both sides of the coin on this one. It’s a shame they had to decide to destroy this particular elk though. They transplant bears all the time, very frequently really. They had other options I know it. To kill it was just out of laziness is my final thought on the subject. Thank you,
Dale McKainNovember 16, 2013 at 10:59 pm
I believe this move was unnecessary. Here in Pendleton, Oregon we have a “Real West” pageant called “Happy Canyon” that has had a “pet” mature bull elk (i petted MORTIMER-the elk) as one of the actor of the pageant. I feel that Mark Rosenburg would have gladly taken this elk to raise to maturity to be the next actor / stand-in. All the elk would have needed would have been a ride, a horse trailer, and some hay and H2O. We could have enjoyed his show for many years — at Pendleton Round-Up Week.
Too easy to claim killing to be the answer, to a life’s situation.
JhNovember 17, 2013 at 8:51 am
WHY on earth did the idiot park service not consider relocating this poor elk instead of killing it. I only wish the elk had gored the idiot photography and damaged his equipment beyond repair. Humans are so stupid, it’s always the poor animals that loose when some self serving human is involved. I used to love the Smoky Mountains and all that it offered in scenery, spend a lot of money there in the past, but since this is the way it’s managed, my dollars will now go elsewhere. I hope this clown is happy and NEVER forgets that he caused the death of one of God’s magnificent creatures.
lindaNovember 20, 2013 at 8:47 am
william goldmanNovember 17, 2013 at 8:14 pm
I USE TO OWN A CABIN IN GATLINBURG. I QUICKLY LEARNED TO PROTECT MYSELF AT ALL TIMES. ONE DAY I AWAKENED TO AN ELK AT MY FRONT DOOR. JUST AS QUICKLY HE LEFT. THIS IS BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY, BUT NOT DISNEYLAND. IF A PERSON WANTS DISNEY, GO TO CALIFORNIA OR FLORIDA. IF YOU WANT BEAUTIFUL SCENARY, GATLINBURG IS THE PLACE TO VISIT
NashtntoweeNovember 18, 2013 at 8:35 am
I really wish this would disappear from the web altogether. People aren’t going to see the “Elk euthanized” part, they’re only going to see the ‘cute’ photos and be encouraged to try the exact same thing, with possibly a completely different outcome. Be more responsible in what you put out there please!!!
lindaNovember 20, 2013 at 8:44 am
And this young elk was killed why????? There was no reason to kill this creature. Absolutely none makes me angry. This animal didn’t even hurt the man!!!!! And if it would have it would have been hid fault to begin with. The ones that killed this animal dicust me.
Old Car NutNovember 21, 2013 at 5:11 pm
We live in elk country (Colorado). One of the popular places to view elk rather close was Estes Park. I say was until Estes can be put back on the map. Photographing them is natural as they are majestic looking. They move down from Rocky Mountain National Park next to town. One daughter used to live in Estes where she had occasional encounters with elk. Trouble is seldom, but the town and the park would advise people not to approach them, especially during rutting season, the fall. We and our daughter each have mountain homes. The elk are there. Cattle are much more abundant as it is open range. We don’t look for trouble, but if a bull elk wants to cause it as it appears it did in this case, we will deal with it as necessary. Jeff suggested transplanting, as with bears. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Until one happens to be the recipient of a bad bear as my daughter and her neighbors were. Changing its location didn’t change its attitude. We suspect it took up permanent retirement in someone’s freezer as it finally disappeared from the area. No one was sorry to see it and its tendency to destroy structures and kill other animals go away. From the video report the photographer didn’t approach the elk, it approached him. Then it kept coming back to the area later. Some years ago the elk population became too great in RMNP. The park and the town opened the area for a special hunting season for well seasoned hunters (at least 5 consecutive years of licensed hunting to qualify). Not only did it thin the herd so that the available grazing could handle the rest, the elk became more reluctant to roam around town for a number of years. Looks like this young bull came looking for trouble. Whether euthanizing was the best choice or not, the deed was done. I just hope the meat was put to good use.