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Elk Goes Viral, Gets Euthanized
Men behind video 'deeply saddened'
By Matt Cantor, Newser User | Suggested by Ghille
Posted Nov 19, 2013 8:14 AM CST
Updated Nov 23, 2013 11:32 AM CST
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(Newser) – An elk in North Carolina's Great Smoky Mountains National Park made a name for himself via a YouTube clip that has garnered nearly 2 million views—and also played a role in his downfall. In the clip, the young bull elk butts heads with a photographer for quite a while, without hurting the man. But park officials euthanized the animal on Friday, fearing it could injure someone else, the Asheville Citizen-Times reports. And though they say the issues with the elk pre-dated the video—the animal had grown accustomed to eating "people food"—officials admit the Oct. 20 clip was a "critical step in the decision-making." That's because it marked the first proof they had of the elk actually making physical contact with a visitor.

Officials say they first tried to "haze" the creature 28 times since September, reports NBC News, attempting to scare it with firecrackers and pelt it using bean bag guns to change its opinion of humans. They also tried moving it elsewhere in the park. Apparently, neither technique deterred it, and the decision was made to put it down, a first for the park. The photographer and the man who posted the video say they're upset with the move. "It has certainly pulled a black cloud over this whirlwind 'viral video' experience," writes Vince Camiolo, who took the video, in the description on YouTube. Adds photographer and head-buttee James York: "I am deeply hurt by the loss of such a beautiful creature that in its own way bonded with me. I looked forward to watching him grow to a mature bull as the years passed." But York tells NBC News he's "tired of being blamed" for the animal's death, noting that the animal approached him—in a spot he had been sitting in for an hour.

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Showing 3 of 107 comments
Mark Westwood
Nov 24, 2013 12:30 PM CST
Humans behaving badly. And from North Carolina? Imagine that.
youngblood
Nov 23, 2013 7:43 PM CST
Hey James York couldn't your figure out that if you took a video and posted it with this elk head butting you then that would leave a problem for the elk. Yeah you helped kill it. But then I'm a idiot thinking you're going to read this.
Clark Kent
Nov 23, 2013 5:41 PM CST
No one was hurt. The elk was obviously afraid and backed up quickly when approached. It was doing what it learned to do from people feeding it, same as a dog at a kitchen table. They should shoot all of the elks and replace them with plastic elks. That will eliminate the potential lawsuits as someone below was concerned about. Although we need to find plastic elks without any sharp edges. Parks department could be sued over that too.