Bonehead Tourist Illegally Harasses Elk in Yellowstone

We’ve seen and heard about tourists doing pretty dumb stuff in national parks. However, we recently stumbled upon a video of a bonehead tourist breaking the law and tempting fate.

Luckily for the individual, they escaped the situation unharmed. But things could have gotten nasty in a hurry.

Today, we’ll share how this boneheaded tourist broke the law and risked his life while visiting Yellowstone National Park.

Let’s get started!

Touron Challenges Elk at Yellowstone National Park

While scrolling through Instagram recently, we came across a video of a tourist who, to put it nicely, was being a moron. The individual brought his bugle into the park and was using it to call at the nearby elk. However, what he thought was fun and games was dangerous and illegal.

The National Park Service (NPS) at Yellowstone requires guests to stay at least 25 yards from elk. Purposefully taunting or approaching them is illegal. Park rangers protect the land and the animals that call it home.

Unfortunately, there was no update regarding whether the individual was punished. However, his actions could have landed him in serious hot water with NPS.

They take these offenses very seriously and will punish individuals. They come with hefty fines and extended bans from national parks and other public lands. If anyone deserves the title of “touron,” it’s the guy in this video.

Are Elk Dangerous?

Elk are generally a non-aggressive animal. However, you can’t forget that male elks have massive antlers that are incredibly sharp. They’re not afraid to use them in an attack if they feel you are threatening them or their herd.

Additionally, male elks, called bulls, become aggressive and territorial during the mating season. This typically occurs from mid-September through mid-October.

Encountering an elk during this time can be extremely dangerous, and you should proceed cautiously. We don’t recommend chasing it around a parking lot with a bugle like the man in the video.

How to Avoid Dangerous Encounters with Elk

As we said, elk are generally not aggressive animals. As a result, avoiding a dangerous encounter with an elk is relatively easy to do most of the time. However, it will require some effort and action on your part. Let’s take a look at how you can avoid these situations.

Keep Your Distance

There’s a reason why the National Park Service suggests keeping your distance. It gives you time to react and avoid aggravating the animal. However, this distance can vary based on the park. For example, Yellowstone requires guests to stay 25 yards away, while Great Smoky Mountains require 50 yards.

Either way, we suggest you follow these guidelines. If not, not only could you end up in the hospital, but you could also receive a stiff penalty from NPS officials.

Stay Calm and Quiet

If you encounter an elk, your best bet is to remain calm and quiet. Avoid sudden movements, loud noises, or yelling. While you may be trying to spook the animal into running in the opposite direction, it may trigger a negative response. The animal may not find your noise or attempt amusing and could attack.

Remember that you’re a guest in their home. If they block your path, you’ll need to find a new route or return the way you came. Whichever decision you make, do it calmly and quietly.

Keep Pets Leashed

Many national parks prohibit pets on trails. One of the biggest reasons is that they’re not natural parts of the environment. Keep pets leashed if you find yourself in a location that allows pets.

There’s no telling how they’ll respond when encountering a 500- to 750-pound elk. They may try to defend you and escalate the situation by aggravating the elk.

Avoid Rutting Season

As mentioned earlier, bull elks are the most aggressive and dangerous during the rutting season. If you’re worried about dangerous encounters, we suggest knowing the rutting season and visiting during non-rut periods.

During non-rut periods, elk are generally much less aggressive and focus more on foraging than anything else.

You can always check with local officials to stay updated. They’ll likely be able to give you a better idea of the rutting season. Additionally, they’ll be able to provide you with the best times to visit to avoid encounters with aggressive bulls.

Stay on Designated Trails

During rutting season, officials may close portions of a trail. This often occurs in areas with high elk populations, which could be unsafe for hikers. When this happens, it doesn’t permit you to go around or off the trail.

You should always stay on designated trails to avoid damaging the landscape or finding yourself in a potentially dangerous situation.

Just like approaching or purposefully disturbing wildlife, leaving the trail can get you in trouble. If a sign states to “stay on trail” and you choose not to, you’re not only breaking the law but risking your life.

There are reasons why rangers require you to stay on trails, and many of them revolve around keeping you and others safe.

Carry Bear Spray

Bear spray is a highly effective defense mechanism against bears. However, it’s also effective against other large animals, including elk. If you already have bear spray, carry it while hiking. You never know when it may come in handy.

Just ensure you know how to use it and that it’s not expired. Carry it somewhere that it’s easily accessible. You don’t want it to be in the bottom of your backpack when encountering an angry elk or other dangerous animal.

Now that you know how to stay safe from elk attacks, learn how to handle a bear encounter.

Don’t Be a Touron, Leave Wildlife Alone

Visiting national parks and spotting wildlife can be exciting. However, don’t be a touron and ruin it for yourself and others. Follow the rules of the park and behave yourself.

You may think you’re being funny or trying to capture a sweet picture for Instagram, but it can get you in serious trouble. The hefty fine and ban from national parks can be an expensive way to learn a lesson.

Have you ever witnessed someone doing something dumb around wildlife? 

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