Yellowstone Tourists Roasted for Posting Video Hand-Feeding Young Elk

by Jon D. B.

In the latest episode of Tourons of Yellowstone, we find a young couple filming themselves (and being super proud of the result) while attempting to hand-feed a young elk cow in Yellowstone National Park.

“A fed animal is a dead animal” is the primary hashtag the popular Instagram account uses to describe this unfortunate and ignorant behavior, and it couldn’t be more apt.

“Please do NOT feed or touch the wild animals in Yellowstone,” their caption reads. “This younger cow elk has obviously been fed before because she’s being way too friendly towards the tourons. Leave the animals alone!”

It’s a topic touched on regularly here at Outsider, unfortunately, but habituation has got to stop. Wildlife becomes habituated when humans condition them to expect food from our presence, and it always ends poorly for the animals. Many are euthanized for posing a threat to people (especially bears), when all they’re doing is acting on the behavior ignorant individuals are teaching them.

“When will people learn that wildlife in the national parks are not farm animals at a petting zoo?” asks commenter Aunt Janie in kind.

“When they start issuing fines… Expensive fines,” replies Ryan H. in kind. We’ll see if that ever happens. For now, take a gander at this unfortunate Yellowstone encounter for yourself:

“Annoying music was added by the tourons,” Tourons of Yellowstone clarifies of the awful Disney safari-esque track playing in the background. Which, honestly, is the cherry on top that proves how truly ignorant of wildlife these tourists are.

Or, as commenter Cas S. says: “These doinks acting like it’s a drive-thru safari at Six Flags…”

That about sums it up!

Keep Yellowstone Wildlife Wild, or They’ll End Up Like Norway’s Freya the Walrus, a Tragic Cautionary Tale

“Situations like this remind me of what they did to that walrus Freya. giving an animal its space is not only safe for humans but for the animal itself,” observes another ToY follower, Natasha L.

Recently, a “beloved” Norwegian walrus, nicknamed Freya, had to be euthanized after tourists became too friendly with the wild animal. The enormous, gorgeous marine mammal would spend her days in the Oslofjord climbing up on boats and piers in hopes of handouts and human interaction. 

But her size alone meant one accident could spell death for visiting humans. So local officials found her as a risk to public safety, warning tourists to not approach the 1,300-pound walrus. This, of course, did not work, and the decision was made to euthanize Freya.

This is what happens, and it’s tragic. But it’s a completely preventable fate. All we have to do is let wildlife be wild. Do not interact with them. And do so with the knowledge that you’re literally saving lives.

When in Yellowstone National Park, doing so isn’t only morally right, it’s abiding the law. Failing to do so can result in whopping fines. Or being charged with a federal crime resulting in jail time.