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Irritated park ranger calls out tourists for getting dangerously close to an elk herd: ‘You’re going to get arrested’

The Great Smoky Mountains website warns that elk are larger than black bears and can be dangerous.

The Great Smoky Mountains website warns that elks are larger than black bears and can be dangerous.

Photo Credit: @jackalfilmproductionsinc / TikTok

A park ranger was forced to step in when tourists got too close to an elk at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Footage uploaded to TikTok by Jackal Film Productions Inc. (@jackalfilmproductionsinc) showed one tourist glued to their cell phone while taking pictures or filming a group of the large deer species grazing.

While so intent on making sure they got the shot just right, they obviously didn’t realize the distance to the elk was unsafe.

One bystander shouted, “you’re going to get arrested,” towards the hapless tourist, but that didn’t seem to deter them.

@jackalfilmproductionsinc #PSA: Here is what #NOT to do when #viewing the #elk in the #Great #Smoky #Mountains #National #Park. As much as we #love to see them in #person, #please #remember that "#Willfully #approaching within #50 #yards (#150 feet), or any #distance that #disturbs or #displaces #elk, is #illegal in the #park. #Violation of this f#ederal #regulation can #result in #fines and #arrest. Do #not #enter #fields to #view #elk#remain by the #roadside and use #binoculars, #telephoto #lens, or a #spotting #scope to #view the #animals." #Learn more about the #elk in the #Smokies: #brys #Video by #instagram #tennessee ♬ original sound – Jackal Film Productions Inc.

When the park ranger turned on his loudspeaker, though, they got the message and retreated. 

“You’re way too close to the elk,” the ranger said in an understandably irritated tone. “You need to give them 50 yards. If you don’t know what that looks like, hold your thumb up. If you can cover the elk with your entire thumb you’re far enough away.”

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park website warns that elk are larger than black bears and can be dangerous. It notes that female elk with calves have charged people in defense, while males may charge if they consider people to be a threat to their domain.

The park advises using binoculars if you want a close-up look. The misguided tourist could have also used the zoom function on their camera rather than approaching. 

When visiting national parks, respect for wildlife is key. This one entitled person not following the rules caused undue stress to the park ranger, the elk, and other tourists just trying to respectfully enjoy nature. Luckily, nobody was injured this time, but it only takes one wrong move for the wild animal to feel threatened and defend itself. 

Feeding wildlife is illegal and often leads to the death of the animals, while any attacks on humans often lead to animals being put to sleep because they will be considered a threat. It’s clear the park ranger has seen a similar situation play out too many times. 

The Great Smoky Mountain’s website warns that park animals are euthanized every year because of mistakes that visitors make.

Not only was our tourist risking a trip to the hospital by being too close, but they could have also played Grim Reaper for an elk that was just trying to defend itself. 

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