Fully grown, a bull elk averages five feet tall at the shoulders and is crowned with antlers up to four feet in length and 20 pounds in weight. The Yellowstone National Park natives weigh anywhere from 700 to upwards of 1000 pounds and are not afraid to use their staggering size to defend themselves if need be.
The most important thing to remember, not just with bull elk but wild animals in general, is that “need” is subjective. You don’t have to sprint towards an animal or brandish a weapon for it to perceive you as a threat. Simply getting too close to the animal, whether accidentally or intentionally, can spur an attack, especially if there are females (in the case of a male) or babies (in the case of a female) nearby.
It’s because of this that outdoor spaces such as Yellowstone National Park require visitors to maintain a minimum distance of 50-100 yards from any wild animal. Following this regulation not only protects the safety of the wildlife but that of the visitors as well.
With that in mind, instructing your two small children to pose for a photo while a massive bull elk approaches them from behind is an awful idea.
To make matters worse, the father didn’t think to move out of the elk’s path until it was within feet of the young girls. If the elk had dropped its head and charged the children, it would’ve already been too late. Elk can run 35 mph, far faster than the average adult, let alone the average child.
Social Media Outraged by Parent at Yellowstone National Park
Elk aren’t vicious predators. They don’t have deadly venom or razor-sharp claws. If they’re given a respectful amount of personal space, they pose virtually no threat at all. However, they are territorial and easily spooked.
During the rut (mating season), males, in particular, are extra aggressive, as they’re full of hormones and willing to do just about anything to keep their cow elk and display dominance. The rut is happening in Yellowstone National Park and other wild spaces right now, making the father’s behavior even more unbelievably foolish.
The person who originally captured the scene on video expressed similar disbelief in the caption. “I watched this scene unfold during my recent visit to Yellowstone National Park near the Lake Lodge,” they said.
“Park Service communications warn visitors to stay 25 yards or more from elk and bison because they can be aggressive and charge without warning. Even so, I saw quite a few people within that range, apparently relying on luck to see them through.”
“Risk your kids’ health and safety for a photo? Would you?” they wrote. “My answer is NO. I would not risk my children just for a photo.”
Commenters were right there with them, sharing similar opinions beneath the post. “Father of the year,” one user sarcastically replied. “It’s not Disneyland people,” another said.