• Outdoors Outdoors

Video shows tourists getting way too close to agitated elk during rut season: 'And no lessons [were] learned here…'

"Even moving cars are a target."

"Even moving cars are a target."

Photo Credit: @touronsofyellowstone / Instagram

A new video shows the surprising dangers of the elk population in Yellowstone National Park.

In a video from the Tourons of Yellowstone account (@touronsofyellowstone), bull elk are shown repeatedly ramming into cars with their massive antlers — and despite their alarming behavior, there are still numerous tourons (tourist morons) getting dangerously close to the animals for a closer look.

"Beware! Bull elk are extremely dangerous during the fall rut. Even moving cars are a target. Be sure to give them extra space," the video explains.

While it's certainly enriching and appropriate to appreciate natural wonders like national parks, it's vital that we do so with as much care and thoughtfulness as possible. Climate activism usually begins by cultivating an appreciation and respect for the natural world, so visiting national parks and observing wild animals from a safe distance is a commendable practice and can lead to better education about nature and a desire to protect it. However, approaching these situations in the wrong way can have serious consequences. 

Tourons have also recently been spotted crowding bison, taking selfies with bears, and taunting moose, all in completely avoidable situations.

Animals (and humans!) require an appropriate level of caution and distance during these interactions, and the recklessness and entitlement of tourons like the ones in the background of this video can jeopardize the lives of everyone involved. Animals like elk must maintain a healthy amount of fear of humans (and vice versa), or else their natural instincts, like finding food and avoiding dangerous environments like busy streets, can be thrown off.

Beyond animals' obvious danger to human observers, humans are also dangerous to animals because creatures involved in unhealthy interactions with people are sometimes euthanized. Avoid being a touron and minimize the stress of the animals, your fellow tourists, and the rangers who work in national parks.

As one commenter on the post noted: "Leave them alone. Observe them from afar."

"I hate humans," another added.

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