Elk charges at dim-witted tourist doing a bizarre elk impression

Cow elk at Yellowstone National Park
(Image credit: Getty)

It’s a mistake to anthropomorphize animals. Especially wild animals. We might want to read human emotions into their furry little faces, but they’re probably only thinking, 'Can I eat it?' 

Having said that it’s impossible not to read, 'WTF?!' into the expression on the cow elk in this video clip. Shortly before she makes a not-unexpected charge at the guy in an incident that took place at Yellowstone (via TouronsOfYellowstone).

I mean, we’re all well aware that some tourists in National Parks do the stupidest things, putting themselves, other people and the wildlife at risk. But then a tourist comes along and does something so bizarre as well as reckless, that you can’t help wondering if you’ve slipped into a parallel universe. 

Presumably this kid is doing an elk impression, though to be honest he looks more like a bear trying to get out of a wetsuit. But why pretend to be an elk around a female elk? Good grief, what if she decided to mate with him? 

Luckily for him the female elk just does a warning charge instead, while a female aquaitance off-screen screams, “No, no, no, no, no, no…” Which she really should have been telling the guy earlier.

It may look amusing, but honestly this guy is putting himself in serious danger. 

Elk safety

Elk may seem docile at first, but like all wild animals they can be unpredictable. Females (cows) are particularly dangerous during the spring while protecting their calves, while males (bulls) are most aggressive in the fall while competing for the right to mate.

Different National Parks have their own rules on how much space you should give wildlife, depending on the landscape and the animals' general behavior. The NPS warn those visiting Yellowstone not to approach within 25 yards (23 meters) of elk, and to watch out for signs of distress like pawing the ground or flattening the ears, which indicate the animal may be about to charge.

“In an elk charges, get away!” says the NPS. “Retreat to shelter in a building or vehicle or behind a tall, sturdy barrier as quickly as possible.”

For more advice, take a look at our guide how to enjoy elk rutting season safely.