Elk Euthanized After Interaction with Photographer

    November 24, 2013
    Erika Watts
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After a video taken of a photographer interacting with an elk in North Carolina went viral, the elk was euthanized, leaving people outraged. The video was posted to YouTube earlier this month and the elk was put down just days later because of his behavior.

The video, which has been viewed 2.6 million times on YouTube and has received hundreds of comments, was taken at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Asheville, NC. Photographer James York taking photos of the elk when it approached him. After the elk approached York, it grazed the photographer’s head with his antlers and then butted his head against York’s for a few minutes.

While York was okay, park officials said that the video served as further proof that the elk was a risk. The elk had a history of getting too close to humans and since the animal couldn’t be re-trained, the decision was made to euthanize him.

“The decision (to euthanize) was not made lightly,” said Dana Soehn, a spokeswoman at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “(It’s) not a chance we can take with children in the area.”

Both York and photographer Vince M. Camiolo, the person who took the video and uploaded it to YouTube, were very disheartened by the news that the elk was euthanized. “It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it was devastating,” Camiolo said after learning the elk was euthanized. “I felt very responsible. I still do.”

York, who many YouTube users think is responsible for the elk’s death because he didn’t leave, feels bad that the elk was euthanized even though he says it isn’t his fault. “I’m getting tired of being blamed,” York said. “It was a no-win situation for the park. If they hadn’t put him down the park would be liable. I think (the elk) was a problem waiting to happen.”

Even though York says it wasn’t his fault and that the elk was euthanized, he still feels bad that it was killed. “All the joy is gone. No one got hurt so it was a fun ride. I know the attention contributed to the animal being put down and I wish it had never happened,” York said.

Watch the full encounter below.

Here is a photo York took of the elk during his encounter:


Do you think euthanizing the elk was the right move? Judging from Twitter comments on the situation, many people think it was wrong to kill the elk.

[Image via WBIR]
  • AJ

    What a crazy world this is where kindness is your death sentence. :-(

  • aj Bry

    I grew up camping in the Sierras with my family. My parents strictly followed,and taught us kids to follow, parks signs prohibiting contact with animals(signs also btw prohibited taking stuff lime pinecones,flowers and plants,and artifacts).
    If people would simply FOLLOW THE RULES, stuff like this wouldn’t happen. The man could have been killed. The animals next encounter could have been more violent – especially if it was during rutting! This isnt a Disney character people; this is big-ass wild animal that does not think sentiently or talk to other animals when humans aren’t around. Wrong is wrong: when wildlife comes around stay in your cars, don’t offer food, and slowly drive by and get your instagrams, and keep our wildlife wild and alive.

  • wigglwagon

    The park officials should be replaced by officials with common sense. I would vote for euthanizeing if that were an option.

  • sheila Hawkins

    If the photographer was that close to a wild animal, it was his own fault if he got hurt. Why punish the animal fir doing what comes natural? The photographer is the idiot in this case.

  • JoeWilson

    I’m so sick of reading stuff like this. Instead of executing the elk, they could have removed its antlers. RIP elk, and I’m so sorry you were snuffed out of existence for the crime of just being who you are.