Frustrated elk teaches photographer a lesson about wildlife safety

Elk bugling at Grand Teton National Park, USA
(Image credit: Getty)

A man learned a difficult lesson in wildlife safety at Grand Teton National Park this week, after getting too close to an elk and nearly receiving a face full of antler for his trouble.

The incident was recorded by a client visiting the park with wildlife safari guide Jacob Gore, who shared the video online. In the clip, the client starts filming the the bull elk grazing quietly in woodland, then spots a person seemingly trying to sneak up on the animal from the front to take a picture. Naturally this doesn't work too well – the elk spots the individual, and forces them back with a fast warning charge.

"I started yelling at him and because I wasn’t a park ranger he didn’t take me seriously," Gore said. "Sure enough he got charged by the elk. After the incident I found out one of my clients took a video”

The National Park Service (NPS) urges everyone visiting the Tetons to stay at least 100 yards (300ft) from bears and wolves and 25 yards (75ft) from all other wildlife, including elk and bison.

Hikers should also avoid putting themselves between an adult animal and its offspring, not feed wildlife, and never approach or chase an animal. If an animal changes its behavior as a result of your presence, it's a sure sign that you're too close.

"Use binoculars, spotting scopes or long lenses for close views and photographs," the NPS suggests in its guidance for safe wildlife watching. "Do not harass wildlife. Harassment is any human action that causes unusual behavior, or a change of behavior, in an animal.

"Repeated encounters with people can have negative, long-term impacts on wildlife, including increased levels of stress and the avoidance of essential feeding areas."

For more tips on getting great photos of wild animals without disturbing them, check out our guide six wildlife photography tips from a pro, where professional wildlife photographer and panel judge for the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards Emma Jacobs shares her best advice. Getting a great shot isn't easy, but care and patience will pay off.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.