Elk Destroyed by Park Officials After Viral Video

YouTube Viral Video and Doritos Leads to Elk Death Sentence

A search for Doritos caused an elk to be destroyed by national park officials after a YouTube viral video showed the animal butting heads with a local photographer. A park ranger said that it was the combination of the viral video and the creature’s love of Doritos that led to the animal’s death. Park authorities sentenced the elk to be euthanised and they carried out that sentence on Friday November 15. We have put the video at the end of this article.

The video was uploaded on November 12 by Vince M. Camiolo who is a multimedia photographer. Since the video was posted on YouTube it has had nearly 1.5 million views and over a 1,000 comments. The man being head butted in the video is James York, a local photographer who remained calm and composed throughout the seven minute ordeal. After the deer got tired of butting York, he  stood up and walked slowly toward a vehicle and got in on the passenger side.

According to park officials that is exactly what Mr York should have done. Although they have said he should have done that in the beginning. Park spokeswoman Dana Soehn explained that this incident was not the reason that the elk was euthanized. She said that this particular animal had been getting bolder in his pursuit of “people food.” Park officials said that the combination of the viral YouTube video and the creatures love of Doritos was what earned the elk its death sentence.

The park spokeswoman said this is the first time that the park has decided to euthanize an animal in the park. The decision was reached after rangers saw the elk escalate its contact with the photographer. They also said that this was the first time they had observed the animal getting physical with a park visitor. It was the video footage that doomed the elk as this particular animal has been increasing its contact with human guests at the park.

Unfortunately for the elk, the video just proved what the park officials knew already. The head butting incident was the end of the line for the animal and it was also the “critical step” in deciding to kill the creature before it hurt someone. The viral video footage caused North Carolina National Park officials to destroy the elk after it was posted on YouTube. This unfortunate animal died as a result of its Doritos addiction.

James York had shown up at the national park on October 20 to shoot still pictures of the wild life. The photographer said that he felt as though he had bonded with the elk and that neither of them were injured in the interaction. James said that the decision to put the animal down saddened him and that he had been looking forward to watching “his” elk grow up.

Park officials explained that they had been “hazing” the elk in an attempt to break him from approaching people for food. The hazing consisted of the animal being shot with bean bags and having fireworks set off near it. Unfortunately the animals love of potato chips and Doritos proved to be too difficult to break. Officials even went so far as to have the animal sedated and moved to an place in the park  far from its regular  area.  Sadly the animal’s addiction led to its death.

Soehn said that people coming into the park and feeding the animals was what caused the elk to get closer and and closer to visitors who make the offering of potato chips/Doritos. The relocation of the animal did not work as he managed to find his way back to his  “feeding ground.” She revealed that officials felt it was “too risky” to relocate the elk again. After its display of physical interaction with York, they felt the increased familiarity with people could result in someone being injured or killed.

Park rangers praised James York as he did exactly what he should under the circumstances. The photographer did not approach the elk and he didn’t reciprocate the deer’s physical interaction by touching him back. They did say that he should have walked slowly away the moment the animal came up to him.

York said that at the time he was not sure what to do. He was in a line of photographers waiting to get pictures of the wild life. The elk came by and focussed on James. He explained that he felt safest by sitting on the ground as he could curl into a ball if the animal attacked.

The entire incident took place over a seven minute time period and was filmed by Vince Camiolo. Vince said that he was “pretty nervous” for York during the episode. Camiolo also said he was quite new at this whole thing and thought perhaps this type of thing happened on regular basis.

Park officials just recently took off the antlers of another bull elk who hangs around a “high use” public area. This animal was getting very aggressive towards visitors. At 800 pounds if the elk had made contact with the people it charged injury would have been severe.

That particular elk had its antlers taken off to cure it of its aggressive attitude. Dominant bull elk will actively defend their territory during “rutting season” which is the time of year that elk mate. They charge and spar with other bull elk.

Even though elk are a species of “special concern” in North Carolina, this animal; whose antics were caught and posted on YouTube, was destroyed by park officials for his love of handouts. Once the video went viral, national park officials became aware of the animals increasing boldness in searching for Doritos and potato chips from guests to the park. Since the news of the animal’s death has been made public Vince Camolio said that photographer James York was being blamed for the  decision. Vince pointed out that James did nothing to encourage the elk to approach him. You can see the incident in the video below.

By Michael Smith
United Kingdom

Citizen Times

USA TODAY