Rangers Euthanize Elk Featured In Viral YouTube Video

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Courtesy Vince M. Camiolo / YouTube

(WREG-TV) An elk featured in a YouTube video that went viral was euthanized, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.

In the video, the elk is seen headbutting photographer James York by the Cataloochee Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Oct. 20.

Park officials say the decision to euthanize the animal was made because the elk associated people with food, something that happened before the encounter with York, and couldn’t be re-trained to fear them.

The filmmaker who took the video,┬áVince M. Camiolo, said in an update to the description, “I am deeply saddened by the fate of the elk. It has certainly pulled a black cloud over this whirlwind “viral video” experience.

“I spoke to the reporter who broke the story and she assured me the decision was based on a pattern of aggressive behavior that began prior to the incident documented in this video. The behavior was the result of visitors feeding the elk and conditioning them to seek food from humans. This video only serves as an example of the elk’s dangerous behavior, not an impetus to it.”

WBIR reports that park officials said York didn’t do anything wrong, because the elk initiated the encounter and York didn’t respond.

Park spokesperson Dana Soehn said the physical contact seen in the video expedited the decision to euthanize the elk.

York said in a statement, “I am deeply hurt by the loss of such a beautiful creature that in its own way bonded with me. I looked forward to watching him grow to a mature bull as the years passed. I’m truly heartbroken to know he is gone.”

This is the first time an elk has been put down at the park.

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