Picture the scene: You’re walking through Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada, and you spot an elk grazing in the field. It’s a great photo opportunity, so you keep a safe distance and use the zoom function on your camera to grab a quick shot.
Then you and the elk go about your business as if nothing happened. You get a remarkable picture to show your friends and family, and the unbothered elk continues munching on grass. Everyone loves a happy ending.
This tourist, though, didn’t read the script.
Instead, they thought it would be a smart idea to get right up in the elk’s face to get an unnecessary close-up of the majestic animal.
Unsurprisingly, the elk wasn’t pleased with the unwanted attention. To demonstrate its displeasure, the animal lowered its head and made to charge. Fortunately for the tourist, the elk stopped short of impaling them with its antlers.
Onlookers filming the interaction were horrified and fearful for the tourist’s safety.
“Excuse me, sir. Run!” shouted one worried viewer. “Go, it’s not funny! Get! Someone’s gonna die.”
“What a mindless twit,” said one Instagrammer, with another adding, “Unbelievable how stupid sooooo many people are.”
One commenter said the tourist had a “Death wish,” while another was shocked by the tourist’s confusing choice while his life was in danger: “And the fact that he keeps filming…”
Jasper National Park calls on visitors to stay 30 meters (98 feet), or three bus lengths, away from elk at all times. This tourist was probably no more than the length of a bicycle away at one point.
“Getting too close to elk is hazardous,” the park spelled out quite clearly. “Attacks have occurred at any time of the year. Females are most aggressive during the May/June calving season, and males are especially dangerous during the September/October rut.”
It’s shocking how little respect this tourist had for the animal. If they were really so keen on capturing a stunning picture in its natural habitat, they could have done so without getting so close.
Interactions between humans and animals are not only unsafe in the moment but also in the long term. If animals get used to humans, their survival instincts decrease, leaving them vulnerable to predators — which can have an impact on the local ecosystem.
Hopefully, this tourist has learned a lesson from this close encounter.
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