While visiting Yellowstone National Park in the winter, one man thought it was a good idea to corner a young bull elk to snap a photo.
The unsettling encounter was captured on video and uploaded to the Tourons of National Parks Instagram page (@touronsofnationalparks), which showcases entitled tourists acting recklessly around wildlife.
“There’s an elk over here … we’re about 10 feet away, and he’s letting us just stand next to him,” the touron says in the clip, clearly oblivious to the danger he’s in.
Even more troubling, the touron is perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking a river. One misstep or a sudden attack from the elk could send him tumbling into the frigid, rock-filled water below.
The caption on the video reads, “Keep at least a 25 yard distance away from the elk in Yellowstone. For their safety AND yours!”
Even though it’s tempting to see wildlife up close, it’s not worth the risk of getting seriously injured or killed by an animal. According to the National Park Service, male elks can weigh around 700 pounds and stand roughly five feet tall at the shoulder.
A news release from the Yellowstone NPS stated that bull elk are unpredictable, especially during mating season, and “people have been severely injured” by the large mammals. It also said to “never approach or pursue animals to take their picture” and to use a zoom lens to give them adequate space.
Though Yellowstone explicitly prohibits “willfully remaining near or approaching wildlife,” countless tourists ignore the cardinal safety rule. In a similar occurrence at Yellowstone, park visitors tried to get a close-up photo of an elk calf and had to run from the charging mother. Another pair of tourists just barely escaped serious injury when a bull elk tried to ram them with its antlers.
Yellowstone is a special place, designated as the nation’s first national park in 1872 when the U.S. government saw the need to protect the land from private development and preserve it for people to enjoy. However, the public must also do its part by respecting the environment and fellow tourists when visiting these incredible places so that everyone can have a positive experience.
Commenters were appalled by the touron’s behavior and didn’t hesitate to call him out.
“Seeing people do this ruins the experience for me,” one person said.
“‘Letting us just stand next to him’ … until he doesn’t,” another added.
“I sure hope they find these tourons & fine the heck out of them!!” said someone else.
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