Elk euthanized for being too people-friendly

Elk euthanized after video of playful head-butting with photographer goes viral. Officials at Great Smokies National Park said elk was euthanized because he was a threat to people.

  • close
    This video of an elk playfully head-butting photographer James York was viewed online more than 1 million times. Last Friday, officials at Great Smokies National Park euthanized the elk.
    Courtesy of WLOS-TV
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption

The young elk featured in a viral online video playfully head-butting a photographer has been euthanized after authorities at the Great Smokies National Park determined he was a safety threat.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported Friday ( ) that the elk was euthanized in the wake of the Oct. 20 YouTube video, which has been viewed more than a million times and featured on national news shows. The video shows the elk head-butting James York, who was sitting along a trail taking photographs. York was not injured.

Smokies spokeswoman Dana Soehn said the difficult decision to put the elk to death was made after efforts to keep it away from people failed. She said visitors have been feeding some of the elks, causing the wild animals to lose their fear of humans.

"I can't tell you how bad I feel," said James York, the photographer in the video, in a TV interview.


We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.