Viral head-butting elk euthanized in N. Carolina

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(WTKR)— The elk seen in the viral video head-butting a North Carolina photographer has been euthanized.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that the elk was put to death on Friday after the YouTube video showing the encounter went viral.

The video shows photographer James York, who was sitting along a trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park taking pictures, being approached and head-butted by the elk. York was not injured.

The video was viewed more than one million times and featured on national news shows.

Smokies spokeswoman Dana Soehn said the decision to put the elk to death was a first for the park. Park officials said the elk was a problem before approaching the photographer.

Soehn said the elk had lost its fear of humans after being fed by visitors. She said the animal had demonstrated dangerous behavior that could result in human injury or death.

York says he is “truly saddened” that the elk was euthanized.

“I was really looking forward to watching him grow up,” he said. “I felt like I bonded with him. I am crushed that he’s gone. I was looking forward to his rack getting bigger and maturing into a bull.”

Read more: The Asheville Citizen-Times


  • espencerphotography

    Humanity truly is disgusting! why didn’t they rehome the animal instead of putting the playful animal down, it really does disgust me, the world we live in. Every animal has a character of its own just like human beings are we going to start euthanizing humans for being playful with animals ?. This world is an awful place to live in when animals cannot run free without human beings wanting to kill them for acting out of their nature to be scared of humans. Why can’t we all live in peace together? and let the animals live without the threat of being murdered if they get too close.

    • Teres

      I agree. Some of us enter their world, without keeping a distant respect and then cry because they (the wild animals) react to us… not educationally knowing how, like us human animals think. But react with their natural instinct and then we are offended. Yes, relocation would have been the best option. As a photographer who appreciates nature, if that happen to me… I would have fought for the elk and would not have wanted that to happen. Was that even a thought from this photographer?

  • tracy

    Sign the Expose Animal Abusers Petition Now!
    Communities have good reason to be concerned about the whereabouts of animal abusers. In story after heartbreaking story, abusers repeat their violent crimes against helpless animals, and often go on to victimize people as well. Keep your animals and your families

  • Rene

    I am disgusted by this,. why not euthanize the idiots that fed him and made him friendly? yet another stupid decision by our wonderful Government

  • Jayson Mair

    They should have let the bull live. Remember that we entered their woods or mountains. It is the wild, Things do happen. They are wild animals.

  • Linda Fisher

    This is very disturbing. If a wild animal come into our neighborhood they get put down. The idiot who went into the animals territory was wrong not the animal. I can’t understand why they felt like the animal needed to die. Ignorant people.

  • verdi rasmussen

    Discusting, why not transport this poor elk th another area. They do that all of the time when they want!!!

  • Bruce

    They should have let someone shoot him and take him home to the freezer. That Elk had no fear which is somewhat unusual. Usually when you run into them they will run 20 miles before they stop. If that elk had given just one quick hard thrust and got him in the chest! No more photos by that photographer! We must realize that the people vs the forest service sued and I believe won when a boy here in Utah was killed by a bear. Same situation here; once they knew that they had a problem with the elk they were liable and moving it would not have fixed the problem.. Americans love to sue :/

  • Ryan Prinkey

    Good job to worthless scum that dicided to kill an animal on his own turf. I’d enjoy watching the person that pulls the trigger to get kill by that spike. Open yours eyes you idiots we need them. And this is coming from a hunter. Not no usless stump humper

  • Christine G

    This story doesn’t have all of the information. This animal had lost it’s fear of humans because people had been feeding him. The officials made a decision that was in public interest. You can hate the officials all you want but the responsibility lies with the people who visit the park and feed the animals. They are the ones who killed this animal. No one else.

  • whosoever

    The idiot photographer is sitting in the roadway, should we shoot all drivers on the road for fear the drivers may hurt him?
    Why was the idiot in the open with a wild animal nearby, did’nt even try to slowly back away or get into a passing vehicle.
    Shame on that idiot photographer and our whole system that makes everyone pay but the guilty ones, the clueless ones, the ones without a lick of commen sense.

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