published Saturday, November 16th, 2013

Head-butting Smokies elk in viral video euthanized

Photographer has close encounter with young elk / Photo: Vince M. Camiolo
Photographer has close encounter with young elk / Photo: Vince M. Camiolo
Photo by The Tennessean /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — 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.

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