An Elk was euthanized on Friday after an amateur video, which went viral, showed it headbutting a nature photographer in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in North Carolina.
The one-year-old elk can be seen in the video jabbing the sitting photographer with its antlers almost in a playful way as opposed to a violent attack. The video, which was taken by a visitor to the park, was uploaded to YouTube and later viewed by park officials.
The park officials decided that the elk needed to be euthanized, as its behavior was “unmanageable.” Dana Soehn, a spokeswoman for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, said that the elk had been hazed 28 times.
Hazing is done to scare the elks off, or in some cases, simply to improve their behavior. Soehn said that park authorities had hazed the animal 28 times, including shooting it with bean bags and paint balls.
She said: “Most (elks) respond to this,” adding, “The decision (to euthanize) was not made lightly,” but that the elk posed “an unacceptable risk. (It’s) not a chance we can take with children in the area.”
The amateur cameraman who filmed the elk headbutting the photographer, Vince M. Camiolo, said he was “really shaken” when he heard the elk had been euthanized: “It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it was devastating. I felt very responsible. I still do.”
James York, the photographer who was headbutted by the elk, said he is not responsible for the fact the elk was euthanized: “I’m getting tired of being blamed. It was a no-win situation for the park. If they hadn’t put him down the park would be liable. I think (the elk) was a problem waiting to happen.”