Once again, a tourist has learned the hard way that wildlife is and will always be king in our national parks. Recently, one man’s trip to the Grand Teton National Park turned not-so-fun when he decided he would get close to a bull elk for a photo op.
One witness, Adam Collins, 44, of Illinois, snapped a few pics of the animal at the picturesque park but kept a safe distance from it. However, he saw a fellow tourist get risky as he stepped closer to the elk, trying to get an up-close snap.
As Collins watched nervously, that man got within 10 feet of the hoofed and horned animal. Then, in a matter of seconds, the elk decided he was too close for comfort. “He kneeled down on one knee to take a picture and the elk turned, reared up and started charging him,” Collins said.
In the blink of an eye, the tourist bolted, running back through the trees to avoid the elk’s wrath. According to Collins, the elk was within five feet of the ill-advised tourist. However, the man did make one good decision by choosing to run through the tree as the elk stopped chasing him.
“This guy was almost in arms’ reach of getting the antler end of the elk,” Collins said after the incident.
From what Collins witnessed, the man who narrowly dodged the elk’s horns didn’t appear injured after it was all said and done.
However, the close-call comes after a string of bison attacks in Yellowstone National Park earlier this summer. In addition, the incident serves as a crucial reminder that wild animals are just that, wild.
Gruesome incidents prove why it’s never a good idea to approach elk or other wildlife
Two Yellowstone visitors met their untimely demise earlier last month when an elk gored them to death. Additionally, another person was killed nearly a month earlier. In all cases, Yellowstone Park officials said the visitors met their fate after getting too close to the animals.
In addition, this recent near miss is the first human-animal encounter in Grand Teton National Park that went bad. However, that doesn’t include a couple of young bears that park officials relocated before getting into conflicts with humans.
For those of you venturing into our natural parks, it’s vital to know the proper ettqiute should you run into an elk. Elk can be aggressive and have been known to attack without warning. As we enter the fall mating season (Aug-Sept), male elk can act unhinged. During the spring calving season (May-June), female elk aggressively defend their babies. No matter what season we’re in, we must never approach elk.
If you see them in town or near a roadside, please don’t make the critical mistake of assuming they’re tame. These wild animals do not tolerate humans getting too close and will lash out with their hooves or charge with antlers forward if they feel threatened.