Irritated Elk Charges Yellowstone Tourist

Animal charged after woman kept creeping closer and closer with her camera
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2016 9:49 AM CDT

First we had Arnold Schwarzenegger vs. the elephant; now, Yellowstone tourist vs. the elk. Yellowstone's wildlife rules are clear: Stay at least 25 yards away from large animals, quadruple that for bears and wolves. But one woman ignored that Sunday and got too close for an elk's comfort—and got charged for her trouble, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Jody Tibbitts, a Yellowstone guide for 25 years, was giving the grand tour to a family from Florida when he noticed the woman creeping closer to the elk with her camera. "She was practically stomping up to it," he tells the East Idaho News. "I'd say she was probably 25 feet away from the elk as opposed to the 25 yards." Another man with Tibbitts' group started filming the encounter as the guide warned her to steer clear, and the elk can be seen on the video suddenly dashing toward her. When the camera pans to the woman, she's on the ground, the elk a short distance away (Tibbitts says the elk didn't hit her—she tripped).

"I was just going to tell you you're too close to that elk—and that's why," Tibbitts can be heard admonishing the woman. She thanks him, saying, "It won't happen again." "I'm sure it won't," he replies. A park rep tells ABC News that people often get overzealous, especially in their quest for selfies. "People generally are just so excited to be in a park, and the next cool thing is if they can get a picture of wildlife, and then the third thing is: 'Can I get a picture of me and the wildlife?'" he notes. Tibbitts, who says even the most docile-looking animals can prove dangerous, notes the elk had just given birth and may have been protecting her calf; he adds, per CNN, that female elks can weigh up to 500 pounds, capable of causing serious damage or even death. "Imagine a stranger coming into your home and whistling and staring and taking photos," he tells the East Idaho News. "You'd be pretty upset, too." (Yellowstone had to euthanize a baby bison after tourists tried to "help" it.)

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