Smokies officials respond to concerns over euthanized elk - WSMV Channel 4

Smokies officials respond to concerns over euthanized elk

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CATALOOCHEE, NC (WBIR) -- The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is responding to the public's concerns after an elk was euthanized after video showing its encounter with a photographer gained national attention.

Last week, Asheville photographer James York shared his story of the day he was sitting on the side of the road in Cataloochee taking photos when the young male elk approached him and began head butting him. Another photographer video taped the entire encounter, and posted it on YouTube. York wasn't hurt, and laughed about the experience and joked about the wonderful photos he was able to snap.

However, park officials said Friday that the elk in the video had lost its fear of humans, and they made "the difficult decision to euthanize the elk." That was met with a huge outcry from the public online and in social media, with people questioning whether park officials exercised all possible options before killing the animal. Even York, the man in the video, was saddened by the news and the decision.

Here's the park's response to the public:

Last Friday park wildlife biologists made the difficult decision to euthanize an elk. The decision to euthanize an animal of any kind in the park is never made lightly. Elk are iconic symbols in the Smokies, but they are also dangerous wild animals. The park provides education about elk behavior and safe wildlife viewing in a variety of ways including signage, brochures, park website, ranger-led programs, and on-site volunteers who provide information daily at Oconaluftee and Cataloochee during the calving and breeding season.

Read more from our news partner WBIR.

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