An elk who went viral after a close-up encounter with a photographer was euthanized Friday, Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials confirmed Friday evening.
Park officials said the elk could not be re-trained to be fearful of humans. They said the elk had been coming back to that area in search of food, and had begun associating humans with food.
Spokesperson Molly Schroer said placing the animal elsewhere would be passing along a potentially dangerous problem.
If you haven’t seen the YouTube video, I have to imagine that the experience was terrifying for the photographer (those antlers look pointy), but at the same time, this seems like an elk being an elk.
WBIR reports biologists said elk normally mate during the September to October time-frame, and may have thought [photographer James] York was competition for a lady-elk.
The phrase from WBIR’s article that keeps bothering me is “the elk could not be re-trained to be fearful of humans.” We require dogs, cats, horses, and other domesticated animals to live by our rules, even if they don’t understand them. This makes a certain amount of sense, because we bring these animals into our homes. Plus, we have bred them over millenia to be dependent on us. The burden is on humans to train domestic animals how to behave. In a cruel twist of fate, however, the animals pay the ultimate price if the humans’ lessons don’t take. I don’t have a better way to do it, necessarily, but I think we can all at least acknowledge the cruelty.
But what about non-domesticated animals like elk? They live in the wild, while we mostly only visit there. Whatever that elk was doing, it was doing it on its home turf. Maybe it’s still on us humans to watch what we do in that world.
As I said, I don’t have a ready-made solution here, but I hope the wild gets to stay wild a bit longer.
In other news, some people are far more interested in pretending to dominate the wild, but at least they can’t do it without well-deserved public backlash:
Outdoor television show host and avid hunter Melissa Bachman caused a huge controversy after she shared a photo of herself with a dead lion yesterday with the accompanying tweet:
“An incredible day hunting in South Africa! Stalked inside 60 yards on the this beautiful male lion… what a hunt!”
Melissa….He was beautiful before you so savagely killed him…..She should be ashamed of herself. This is a total disgrace….what we called “canned hunting”. Wipe the smile off your face,. any idiot can take a high-powered rifle and a hunt lions that cannot escape and have got ‘human imprinting”. I wish there was a way to get rid of these places that offer these facilities to tourists. It’s all about the money. Btw Melissa, did you need to eat the lion to survive? Wasn’t he so beautiful and majestic while alive, before you took his life? Why didn’t you rather shoot him with a camera. I hope you, never, ever put a foot in our country again….and that goes for ALL you trigger happy tourists. Keep your blasted dollars, yen, euros or whatever. The average South African doesn’t want your kind or your money here. Just ……. off. We don’t want you here and if we could close those shooting ranches down somehow we would. I hope you have nightmares about that lion for the rest of your life……..